Savvy Blog

Charlie at Heifer International

Understanding the Importance of Serving the Community

As part of his AP Human Geography class last year, Charlie Cohen and his classmates held a series of events that raised about $2,000 for Heifer International.

After deciding to do a community service project as a class, the group of about 30 students at Parkview Arts Science Magnet High School chose to work with Heifer because it was in line with their course curriculum. Judy Warren, the class instructor, guided them through the process to promote “authentic learning” and brought in speakers from Heifer to discuss the organization’s mission.

The class organized four events to raise money. When Cohen’s debate coach said she would wear a cow costume if they raised a certain amount, he singlehandedly raised about $250 and she wore the costume for two days, he says. Other events included selling sodas at the homecoming fair, selling pizzas after school and participating in a quiz bowl.

Warren says Cohen showed a great deal of leadership in the project: “He’s just a phenomenal kid.”

Cohen, 17, says that this experience taught him a lot about perseverance and that it “takes a lot more than one thing to raise money.” He says he and his classmates even put in time after school to set up for these events, and that this project made them realize the importance of serving the community.

“The community gives so much to us,” he says. “It’s good to give back what you’ve gotten.”

Cohen, now a senior, is planning to pursue a law degree. He is captain of the debate team, co-captain of the baseball team and is a leading figure in the drama department, he says.

He says one of his favorite parts of the project was choosing which animals to send where based on the money they raised. “It was cool to see what our money could do,” he says. “We all felt a big accomplishment that all our hard work paid off.”

“They were just so excited seeing what they earned,” Warren says. “They organized this. It was their mission. They had a goal and exceeded it.”

Heifer International
Heifer International is dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, and caring for the environment worldwide.

Currently, the nonprofit provides livestock, seeds, trees and training in environmentally responsible agriculture to more than 50 countries, including the United States. Heifer partners with community groups to plan and train recipients in caring for animals, agroecology, water quality, gender equality and community development.

Heifer International’s goal is to enable communities to properly care for livestock, grow sustainable crops and lift themselves out of poverty. Additionally, recipients agree to share their products, their animals’ offspring and the training they received with others in their community. This is called “Passing on the Gift.”

Also, extra products, like milk from cows or goats, or eggs from chickens, can be sold at market, creating new income for families. In turn, this income allows families to have better access to medical care and send their children to school.

Since 1944, Heifer has helped more than 12 million families in more than 125 countries move toward greater self-reliance. The Heifer Village, its international headquarters, is located in Little Rock, and a learning center and ranch is located in Perryville. For more information, visit

Erica Sweeney

Guest writer Erica Sweeney is a freelance writer and editor based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her work has been published at, Arkansas Business and Arkansas Times.

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