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A man looks down at two chickens he is holding

Holt’s President and CEO, Dan Smith, shares a fun and feathered connection he has with many of the families in Holt’s family strengthening programs around the world.

In my day-to-day work here at Holt, I often find myself reflecting on the ways that my personal life intersects with our global work for children and families.

There are some obvious connection points — like my youngest daughter who we adopted from China in 1999. My family and I also lived in Tanzania for five years while I worked as a missionary finance director with the Lutheran Church, where I saw how poverty affects children and families — children and families much like those in Holt’s programs around the world.

There’s another aspect of my life that makes me think of Holt every day, usually around 6:00 a.m. when I’m collecting eggs and setting out food before I head to work — my chickens!

My wife Cathy and I started raising chickens in the spring of 2020 as a “COVID project,” both for a hobby and for the amazing taste of fresh eggs. At the time, we were living in town and built a coop that was just the right size for our small city lot and about four chickens. As it became clearer that COVID wasn’t disappearing, and two of our adult children temporarily moved in with us, we felt that we needed more space for us (and our chickens) and purchased property outside of town with more space inside and out, including a larger chicken coop!

We now have eight chickens that we have accumulated over the past couple years. We probably average about three to four fresh eggs every day. Cathy considers them her pets and they’ve been a fun addition to our household.

We’ve swapped store-bought eggs with fresh ones, and love it! But I know that for families around the world, chickens can make an even bigger, life-changing difference.

Chickens are one of Holt’s most popular Gifts of Hope every year, and we know that chickens provide stable nutrition and income to families in need. Our health and nutrition team says that eggs are one of the best foods to help prevent or overcome malnutrition in children. And in addition, chickens are one of the best income-generating opportunities for families living in poverty!

When a family living in poverty receives chickens through your Gifts of Hope contribution, they have fresh, healthy protein every day for their kids. And any extra eggs, meat or chicks they don’t use themselves, they can sell to their neighbors or in a market to bring in much-needed income.

I saw this first-hand when my family and I lived in Tanzania. We also raised chickens there, and while we got a few eggs from them, we also bought fresh eggs and meat from our neighbors so we could support them and their families. It was not uncommon to see live chickens and other animals being transported to or from town on public transportation! I know of organizations there that would provide small business microloans to help single moms purchase chickens and food until they could generate their own income. And this is exactly what chickens do for families in Holt’s programs — like for Rada in Thailand or Chan in Cambodia.

That’s why, even before my family raised chickens of our own here in Oregon, we gave chickens through Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog in honor of family members for Christmas. Because we know they can make an incredible difference.

So tomorrow morning and the next morning and the next, I’ll think of families around the world when I feed my own chickens. I’ll try to remember to pray for them, that they would stay healthy and have enough food and have the tools they need to be lifted from poverty.

And maybe — because of the generosity of someone who gave them a Gift of Hope — a family across the world will be feeding and caring for their chickens then too.

Give Chickens to a Family in Need

Within a few months of hatching, chicks become chickens and begin laying eggs — providing protein and other vital nutrients for growing kids. Extra eggs and chicks can also generate income for a small family business.

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