Three questions with ... Conor Hiatt
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 www.heifer.org.
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.