Pet a bunny and ‘buy’ a cow for a good cause Sunday

Courtesy Photo Above, a boy poses with young goats at a previous year’s Heifer Fair at First Congregational UCC in Alpena. The free public event is this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Heifer International’s “Living Gift Market” and mini petting zoo will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday on the front lawn of First Congregational United Church of Christ.

The church is located at 201 S. Second Ave. in downtown Alpena (on the corner of Lockwood Street and Second Avenue).

A variety of small animals will be provided by Alpena County 4-H for the petting zoo.

This annual event is a mission fundraiser for Heifer International, with the opportunity to help “purchase” farm animals to help alleviate hunger and poverty around the world.

The public is invited to come enjoy the animals and a complimentary hot dog and salad lunch.

Almost 75 years ago, Dan West herded 17 heifers onto a boat in Mobile, Ala., and shipped them to Puerto Rico, where they were given to families whose children had never before tasted milk. This was the beginning of Heifer International, a relief organization that from the beginning has been about giving the world’s rural poor what is necessary for them to support themselves rather than making them dependent upon short-term relief.

Heifers are young cows that haven’t yet given birth, with a long life ahead of them to supply their owners with milk and calves. When Heifer International gives a family a heifer, it comes with the obligation on that family to make a gift of the first female calf to another family.

Since 1944, when the first boatload of heifers were shipped, more than 12 million families in 125 countries have received livestock through the network of giving that Heifer International has built up.

And it is more than just cows. Heifer International gives poor rural families in the developing world pigs, goats, sheep, geese, llamas, water buffaloes, chickens, rabbits, and beehives, all with the requirement that the first offspring of these animals be donated to neighbors.

And if the know-how to care for these animals is lacking, Heifer International ensures that the families are trained and provided with the necessary equipment to raise and make use of the animals it gives.