While many agonize over what to gift loved-ones this holiday season, Francis McWilliams has already decided on a simple yet thoughtful gift for a family she's never even met. A gift she's sure will not end up in the back of anyone's closet.
"We bought a little bit of everything: chicks, goats, it's really fun and the materials are colorful and helpful," said McWilliams.
She and her husband have been gifting livestock for Christmas the last 3 years. through Heifer International. Many of their friends and other family members have been doing the same thing.
"It's very inspiring to continue to want to contribute to the project knowing that it's doing good around the world," said Michael McWilliams, Francis' brother-in-law.
Heifer International runs the alternative Christmas gifts initiative. It is a program that goes right along with the organization's push to relieve poverty, improve nutrition and most of all give the gift of self-reliance to needy families worlds over.
"Some of us have so many friends and family who have so much that it's so tough to buy for that this gives a chance to buy a gift in their honor," said Joedy Isert with Heifer International.
As they walked through Heifer's educational center Friday, McWilliams and her family reflected on the holiday season and how the alternative gift program continues to spread the spirit of hope and opportunity.
"I really believe that Christmas is about giving. And this is a far more meaningful kind of gift," said McWilliams.
Isert says the most popular animals gifted through Heifer around the holidays seem to be goats. No one knows exactly why, but the folks at Heifer say as long as the gifts keep going out to families, it really doesn't matter which animals are most popular. The Heifer international Christmas catalogue of animals started more than 15 years ago.