By Greg Klein
The Daily Star
---- — A family overseas will be getting a cow thanks to the seventh-grade class at Cooperstown.
For the second year, Cooperstown Central School’s seventh-graders raised $250 to donate to Heifer International. The money is being matched by Michael Powers, a veterinarian at Cooperstown Veterinary Associates. The $500 will be enough to buy the heifer for a family in need.
Powers said he was thrilled with the efforts of the middle school students.
“When you graduate, class of 2018, you will know that this gift is still helping people,” he said. “I am very proud of your efforts. I hope we can continue to do this every year.”
According to Cooperstown middle school teacher Amy Parr, it was Powers who suggested the students get involved with Heifer International.
“This all started with an offer from Dr. Powers to encourage student participation,” Parr said.
Powers said the idea took several years to form.
“When my son Vaughn, who is now in 10th grade, was in seventh grade, his class collected change as part of a math assignment, but they didn’t know what to do with it,” he said. “I didn’t think of it until a year or two later, but it occurred to me that if they wanted to do something nice with the money, they could donate it to Heifer.”
Parr said that most of the money came from small donations.
“Seventh-grader Ilsa Dohner asked our junior high student government to match her large donation, which was very helpful in reaching their total overall goal,” she said.
Powers said that he first became aware of the organization when he was mourning his father James.
“I used to give $30 to purchase bees in honor of my father because he was a beekeeper,” Powers said. “You can give all sorts of animals, ducks, chickens, bees, goats.”
According to its website, Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. The group focuses on providing animals because they provide sustainable food, including milk, eggs, honey and milk byproducts.
In addition, the group said it believes in giving breeding animals, so that the donations will multiply. One of the cornerstones for the group is called “passing on the gift,” a philosophy that ensures more than one family will benefit from a gift.
Powers said he thinks that he will continue offering the challenge to the Cooperstown seventh-graders.
“The kids really enjoy it, and I get something out of it, too,” he said. “It is a kind of feel good thing.
“The thing I was telling the kids is, it is completely altruistic. You don’t just walk down the street and see what you have done. You are giving money to someone you will never know, but you will know in your heart that you have done something to completely change someone’s life.”