Goats, cows, and bulls are far from typical gifts in our beautiful state in the Northeast. However, one Cape May Court House social justice group has a hand in donating these animals - along with houses, sanitation systems, schools and farmland - to a community in Haiti.

In 2006, a speaker from Food for the Poor, an international relief and development organization from Florida, came and spoke to Our Lady of Angels Church in Cape May Court House about the poverty in Haiti.

"Back then we were hoping that we were able to give one family a cinderblock home," Ann Herron, of Cape May Court House, said. "From that we've multiplied and done various projects from education to agricultural and animal husbandry."

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Herron is a member of the Our Lady of Angels Social Justice Group. After speaking with the representative from Food for the Poor back in 2006, the church sponsored the building of that first cinderblock home in the Cape May County Village of Bord DeMer in Haiti.

Following the building of the first home, local schools, businesses, organizations, and individual donors then sponsored the building of an entire village consisting of 16 homes along Haiti's North Atlantic Coast.

Community Bord DeMer has also been gifted 26 goats, 12 cows, a bull, 10 acres of land to grow crops, a school along with school tuition, and a close-by water treatment unit.

Through Food for the Poor, the social justice group sponsors a project about every other year. This year, the group is fundraising to donate a chicken coop and 500 chickens to the community of Papaye, Hinche.

"Hopefully, this will provide a source of income," Herron said. "Our main focus is to help (Haitians) help themselves."

In recent years, the concept of providing opportunities for poor countries to rise out of poverty has become a trend. International organizations Oxfam International and Heifer International strive to do this by allowing people to "gift" items such as goats, fertilizer and stoves for a fee. Food for the Poor also offers this option.

In 2009, Herron went on a mission trip to Haiti. Based on what she experienced, she decided to become a local spokesperson for Haitians.

In order to raise funds for the chicken coop project, Herron created a wire tree and plastic egg display to collect donations for the project. Typically, the group will throw a fundraiser in the form of a bake sale or golf outing every year for their social justice projects.

The group intends to raise $15,000 for the project, which includes the structure of the coop, chickens and food for the birds. There is no deadline for the project, and Herron said they are about halfway to their goal.

For more information about the chicken coop project, see capemay

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