Jenna Beddall, a fifth-grader at Centralia Christian School, is asking for goats, chickens and honey bees for Christmas this year. But the gifts are not for herself. They will go to families in other countries who need a little help. Inspired by a Christmas gift catalog from Samaritan’s Purse, a non-profit relief organization that helps families in poverty, Jenna is raising money to buy some of those gifts.
“I read through the catalog and thought it was cool,” said Jenna, noting that the goat on the front cover of the catalog first caught her attention. “With one goat per family, a family can make money by selling the milk from the goat, as well as feeding themselves with the milk and cheese.” Jenna liked the idea of helping families get out of poverty, but she needed $70 to buy one goat.
The motivated ten-year-old began working toward her goal by doing chores around the house. “My mom is paying me,” she said. “I’ve earned about $25-30 vacuuming, mopping, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, and cleaning the cupboards.”
Realizing it would take a long time on her own, she decided to reach out to her family and friends. One day, she sat down at the computer and began composing a letter.
“This is Jenna Beddall. There are people out there who need a little help. I’m talking about people in Haiti, Kenya, Vietnam, and Nepal,” she wrote. “We can make SO much money, and help SO many families.”
“With as little as $70, a goat can be purchased and sent to someone who needs it,” wrote Jenna. She followed her request with Proverbs 27:27, a Bible verse which she read in the catalog: “You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household.” In addition to asking for help buying a goat, she added, “It doesn’t have to be a goat, though…There are so many helpful things we can buy. Honey bees for $20 and baby chicks for $14.”
Why honey bees? Jenna was inspired by a personal story she read in the catalog. “They gave a family in Kenya a hive and trained them how to care for the bees. Then they made enough money from selling honey to buy goats,” she said.
Her letter ended with a heartfelt appeal: “I’m asking you to help me. You can donate. If you are a kid, you can do extra jobs around the house. If you are an adult, you can just donate. I’m going to do extra jobs around the house to raise money for these people…Again, these families really need our help. WE can help them. Are you in?”
Once her letter was finished, she eagerly sent copies to her grandmother, aunts and uncles, family friends, and also left one in the staff room at her school where her mom teaches. “My grandma shared my letter with her friends, and one of her friends donated $70 for a goat!” Jenna said excitedly.
Inspired by Jenna’s letter, family members, friends and teachers have also enthusiastically pitched in. “My older brother asked me if I wanted money for this or a Christmas gift,” says Jenna. “I said the money, and he gave me $100.”
“Right now, I have about $400 raised.” Jenna keeps the money stored in a special treasure box. “I was thinking of trying to raise about $500 because that sounds good to me—but I could go further than that, too. Maybe $1,000.”
She has big plans for the money. In addition to purchasing goats, honey bees, and baby chicks, she has her eye on other items in the catalog as well—balls and sports gear, money to feed hungry babies, and water filters. “But I can’t drill a village well because it’s $10,000,” she said, giggling. At least maybe not this year…
Jenna plans to send a follow-up letter to those who donated. “I will let everyone know how much was raised and what we bought.”
Giving to others at Christmas is nothing new for this fifth-grader. Jenna Beddall and her family have participated in Operation Christmas Child for as long as she can remember, filling shoeboxes with toys and goodies for children overseas.
This year, she didn’t stop with the shoebox. “When the catalog came in the mail, I looked around my room at all the stuff I have,” Jenna said. That made her think about others who did not have as much and prompted her to do more. “I like the idea of giving goats and chickens and honey bees because it doesn’t just help the children, it helps the whole family.”
Are you in? Donations for Jenna’s Christmas wish list from the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog can be mailed to Jenna Beddall c/o Centralia Christian School PO Box 1315, Centralia, WA 98531 or dropped off at the school office at 1315 South Tower Ave. by December 16.