Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Generous spirit

Lawrence boy’s fundraising garners national recognition

Conor Hiatt, 9, was named one of the Kids Who Care by Kohl's department store. He raised money for Heifer International, which buys livestock for needy families around the world.

Conor Hiatt, 9, was named one of the Kids Who Care by Kohl's department store. He raised money for Heifer International, which buys livestock for needy families around the world.

June 19, 2007


Conor Hiatt talks about 'The Heifer Project'

Conor Hiatt, 9, explains what exactly 'The Heifer Project' is and why he decided to help with their cause. Enlarge video

Three questions with ... Conor Hiatt

Conor Hiatt, 9, was named one of the Kids Who Care by Kohl's department store.

About Heifer International

Heifer International helps set up agricultural opportunities in countries throughout the world. Donors purchase animals for recipients, who undergo training about animal care and are required to build quarters for the animals. One or more of the animals' offspring is then donated to another needy family.For more information, visit

When the advertisement arrived in the mail, one photo caught Conor Hiatt's eye: the picture of a big, hairy, horned water buffalo.

The flier was for Heifer International, which raises money to send livestock to needy families around the world.

Conor, 9, decided he should take on a fundraising project of his own.

"There was a water buffalo for $250 that we could send to Indonesia," he recalls. "My mom didn't think I could raise that."

His mother, Lisa, admits: "I suggested the $20 chicks."

It turns out, though, that the power of livestock - or perhaps bribery among elementary schoolers - is enough to purchase a small menagerie of animals.

Last December, Conor raised $773.59, enough to buy a cow ($500), pig ($120), sheep ($120) and several spare chicks.

His project has earned him an award from Kohl's department store. Conor is the youngest among the 14 Kansas children who were honored in the Kids Who Care program.

Each of the 1,400 winners nationwide receive a $50 gift certificate and will compete for scholarship money. (Conor bought T-shirts and a build-it-yourself dragon with his prize.)

"I just thought it was so cool he did it," says Lisa Hiatt, who nominated her son. "I wanted him to feel it was a success. I was just so proud of him."

Conor raised most of the money at Deerfield School, 101 Lawrence Ave., where he will be a fourth-grader in the fall. He made posters out of cutout photos and construction paper to get the word out.

He also convinced the Student Council and the principal to allow anyone who contributed $1 to the project to chew gum in school for a day, and anyone who contributed $2 to both chew gum and wear a hat.

Lisa Hiatt raised additional funds at Prairie Park School, 2711 Kensington Road, where she worked as a paraprofessional.

"He's always the kind of kid who sees a need out there and wants to help out," Hiatt says of her son.

This isn't the first time Conor has been involved with helping those in need. His family has "adopted" a boy, Arthur, in Zimbabwe, and Conor sends him letters on a regular basis.

Arthur hasn't written since Christmas, though, and Conor is worried that recent troubles with inflation in Zimbabwe have caused problems for Arthur's family.

"I've been reading these books, and a lot of the books had someone who was needy in them," Conor says. "I see homeless people downtown, and I thought maybe I should start raising money. I kind of think, here I am middle-class - not rich but not poor - and I see people who are poor, and I wish I could help people."

He already has plans for his next projects. He wants to raise money again for Heifer International at school next year.

And he and his friends aren't taking the summer off.

They're planning to organize a lemonade stand and give the profits to one of the city's homeless services.


blessed3x 10 years, 6 months ago

This is unbelievable! Hasn't PETA ran this child out of town yet? Don't they realize that these people will someday EAT these animals?

Seriously, good job, Conor. Keep it up.

yankeelady 10 years, 6 months ago

What a wonderful thing to do, and it's nice to know there are still people out there who care. Keep up the good job Conor.

Grams 10 years, 6 months ago

Conor, we are SO proud of you. What a wonderful accomplishment in your quest to make this world a better place. I know this is Grandma writing, but we are so glad that you have a gentle spirit, a kind heart, and a giving nature. Keep making a difference in this world, as what you do accomplish is very important. Love You Lots---Grams & Gramps in Branson

bellabee 10 years, 6 months ago

BUG...we are so proud of you! You're an amazing kid and an inspiration to all. Love Aunt Gina, Uncle John, & Chloe

kaceyandjohn 10 years, 6 months ago

Wow Conor, your Aunt Gina forwarded this to me and I'm so glad she did. You are officially the coolest 9 year old I've ever known. You've already made such a huge difference in the world, way to go kid!

laurafromqueens 10 years, 6 months ago

WOW! Amazing!! Conor, you are a great leader in helping out other good people in this world!!! Keep up the good work!!!!

coriwilcox 10 years, 6 months ago

Conor, Wow, you are an amazing kid! The world needs more consciousness people like you!

Love, Cori

PS. I am Aunt Gina's friend and I saw you take you first steps!

gracefalzone 10 years, 6 months ago

Conor, what a wonderful accomplishment Uncle Jerry and I are really proud of you, Keep up the great work

Love Aunt Grace and Uncle Jerry

auntdawn 10 years, 6 months ago

We are so proud of you Bugger! While so many people complain about how unfair life is, you are actually doing something to make a difference! You are one of the coolest people I've ever met . With love, aunt Dawn, uncle John , and Gracie

CriticalThinker 10 years, 2 months ago

Conor certainly deserves credit for wanting to help others.

Unfortunately, Heifer International is hardly an ideal charity for his hard work.

The use of nonhuman farm animals is a larger contributor to global warming than all the world's transportation combined (see the UN's report "Livestock's Long Shadow"). Livestock also consume a disproportionately large amount of water, land, and food, and create a disproportionately large amount of pollution. In the US, livestock excrete more waste than do all Americans, and more than 1/2 of the water used in this country goes toward livestock.

It takes 8-16 lbs of grain to feed livestock for every lb of "product" returned from them, so the use of livestock in third-world countries represents a tremendous waste of resources. Every 2 seconds, a child starves to death somewhere in the world. Countries such as Ethiopia and some Central American countries use their farmland to supply the United States with cheap burgers instead of growing healthful grain foods for their own starving people. By introducing more livestock, Heifer International is introducing a large competitor for already scarce grain.

The consumption of animal protein is the leading cause of most of our chronic diseases. As Asians adopt the western diet, they have begun to adopt the western diseases (see "The China Report").

Finally, the use of a living creature to meet one's needs is immoral. Domination over other species, races or genders has long appealed to those in power. But that doesn't excuse it any more for nonhuman animals than it did for slavery, child labor, forced prostitution, or other practices forced on others in the name of "progress." Imagine the emergence of an organization called "Dog International" to help those who need dogs to do manual labor until they are slaughtered for food. Disturbing? Now, imagine the emergence of an organization called "Slavery International" to help those who need slaves to do manual labor until they are slaughtered for food. Then ask yourself why that is outrageous, when Heifer International does it with some arbitrary species. Speciesism is no different from racism - it is a predisposition toward the worth of a life according to species.

The exploitation of animals, whether for food, entertainment, or other reasons, is cruel, immoral, and unhealthy to humans, nonhuman animals and the environment. As Ben Stein recently put it, "Animals are our best friends, and we are their worst enemies. They love us, trust us, comfort us, and in return we imprison them, torture them, kill them in the most grisly, cruel ways. This is a dismal mark against the human race."

Conor, please continue trying to help others. But, please, don't contribute to organizations that harm humans, animals and the earth.

CriticalThinker 10 years, 1 month ago

A few more data points on this particular charity: According to Charity Navigator, Heifer Project International rates below all its listed peers (World Relief, FINCA International, Oxfam America and ORBIS International), and the president was paid $183,070 in the fiscal year ending in 2005.
The impression that one is "giving" a chicken or a goat in exchange for a certain donation is also misleading. The fine print tells you that all donations are pooled and certain animals are purchased and delivered from that pool. So what Heifer Project International does do well is accumulate donations through duplicitous means to pay for irresponsible purchases and its own high internal expenses. Connor is to be congratulated for his giving spirit, but Heifer Project International should be ashamed of wasting that goodwill.

cowboy 10 years, 1 month ago

Critical Thinker , you have your head firmly implanted in your Ass , in the third world livestock is transport , it is the abiltity to plant crops , it is the power running the irrigation system , it is the currency of trade , and yes it is food.

CriticalThinker 10 years, 1 month ago

Cowboy - Slaves, women and children have also been used similarly - for transport, planting crops, providing energy for machinery and as the currency of trade. The mere existence of a practice has no bearing on whether or not it is ethical. Genocide is practiced today in Darfur. Do you support genocide through charities because it exists?
Nonhuman animals are far more like we human animals, and are far more complex, than we dared imagine. Data from physiology and anatomy identifies structural similarities between human beings and animals; data from genetics discerns our close evolutionary relationships with other primates; data from field studies sheds light on animal behaviors and show many animals too are tool makers and users; data from biology reveals a similar chemical make-up to human and nonhuman animal brains and emotions; and data from various behavioral experiments demonstrate animals possess a remarkable range of mental and communication abilities. Nonhuman animals, like human animals, are sentient beings, and they have families, and they experience joy, pain, and anxiety, and they suffer, just as we do. To claim that animal abuse is acceptable demonstrates prejudice against other species, just as the claim that slavery is acceptable demonstrates racism. If you are unencumbered by morality, let's turn to the consequences in an ethics-free context (to the extent that is possible). The purchase, transport, delivery and use of animals is far from an optimal solution to the plight of the poverty-stricken. In fact, it often works directly against them.
First, Heifer International is grossly inefficient, as noted above. Secondly, well-researched grounds support the claim that many of the animals shipped by this organization die in transport. Thirdly, their business leads to increased global warming, local pollution of water and land, overgrazing, land erosion, and competition for scarce land, food and water in precisely those regions that can least afford the resource competition. The land needed to feed cattle is 20x the amount needed to feed people, they eat 8-16x the weight of the food that they produce, and they require vast amounts of clean water that is not always available throughout the year. For comparison purposes, one Big Mac costs the world 55 sq. ft. of rainforest, 12 lbs. of grain, and 2500 gallons of water.
It is time to expand moral boundaries, to abolish a form of slavery, to overcome entrenched prejudices, and--in the process--help abolish poverty in third-world countries by helping communities with sensible solutions, not harmful and immoral practices. In short, it is time to think critically. For one who (presumably) practices animal abuse, that means an uncomfortable recognition of one's own cognitive dissonance, much like a smoker who inhales two packs a day must come to accept the evidence that they are practicing a behavior that is leading to their own premature death.

IceCream 9 years, 9 months ago

Good Job! Keep up the good work! I support your efforts. p.s.- think about an appointment with your barber soon.

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