A live goat or pig may seem to be an unusual holiday present, but for families in developing countries, such gifts can ensure their very survival.
Since 2018, the School of Business Service Club at Mississippi College has assisted individuals living in food-insecure countries by providing donations of livestock, seeds, farm implements, and other sustainable commodities through its “Buy the Farm’ initiative. The project supports Send Relief, an international nonprofit organization that responds directly to those in need while sharing the hope of the Gospel.
All gifts made through Buy the Farm to Send Relief go to mission fields around the world. The ministry helps in current crises through ongoing projects in about 85 countries.
During this season of Thanksgiving, there is no better way to show Christ’s compassion for others than to support the students’ volunteer effort, according to Sara B. Kimmel, professor in the School of Business.
“This is a way to keep families together and working to provide for themselves,” said Kimmel, who teaches Global Dimensions of Business and Managing in the Global Environment. “In so many countries, one or more of the parents see industry as a way to get out of poverty. They may move away from the family to earn an income to send back to the family.
“Not everybody can go on a mission trip, but you can make a difference through a monetary donation. When you’re supporting the activities of the church, you’re encouraging others to do the same thing, and you’re providing encouragement and hope. My hope for our faculty, staff, and students is that they understand their monetary gift not only helps meet a physical need, but also provides encouragement and hope in Christ.”
A collaboration between the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, Send Relief is the Southern Baptist one-stop shop for compassion ministry at home and abroad. It responds to crises and provides resources to strengthen vulnerable communities around the world by meeting physical and spiritual needs in Jesus’ name.
Kimmel has been involved in service activities in the School of Business for many years. Founded by students, the Service Club is a social responsibility club that unites with the school’s other philanthropic groups like the Accounting Society, the Investment Club, Women in Business, the Think Tank entrepreneurship club, and the local chapter of the National American Marketing Association to teach their members how to serve as the “hands and feet” of Christ.
Buy the Farm began as a competitive project among the School of Business clubs, but students from across campus are encouraged to raise funds through donations and merchandise sales. The name is a wordplay on the popular euphemism, with a literal meaning.
“It’s a catchy title,” Kimmel said. “If you can raise enough money, you can actually buy an entire farm. So, we publicize it across campus every year.”
For the last few years, MC students have purchased and sold School of Business merchandise like T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and stickers to benefit Buy the Farm. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the students sold School of Business protective masks. Since 2018, enough merchandise has been purchased to furnish 10 farms.
This year, Service Club members sold concessions at the Junior and Senior High School Capital Area Student Council Workshops hosted by MC to raise funds for Buy the Farm. School of Business students purchased refreshments, and the Department of Continuing Education donated $1 for every concessions ticket the students collected at the event.
By participating in Service Club activities like Buy the Farm, MC students do more than participate in a philanthropic activity – they also support sound business practices that can benefit families for a long time, Kimmel said.
“If you can provide the resources for someone to sustain their family, you’re not just helping them that day. You’re creating an opportunity for a lifetime,” she said. “Startup costs for a business in the developing world may not be as significant as they are here, but it is significant in proportion to their resources. If you can start them out with a gift, and if they receive the training they need to turn it into a sustainable business, they can keep going year after year.
“Most individuals come away from the program with the training to harvest at the end of the planting season and have seeds for the next year. Send Relief isn’t just a one-time thing – it’s a gift that keeps giving to those families, and individuals can train their children to succeed in the future.”
Individuals can support Buy the Farm by logging onto the School of Business Marketplace website to purchase Service Club T-shirts, hats, and stickers or to make tax-deductible monetary donations. Surplus proceeds will fund Rise Against Hunger, another large service opportunity MC Business students support every other year.
“It’s meaningful for faculty, staff, and students when they can see their donation is going to someone who needs help,” Kimmel said.
“It lets you print a card that indicates a gift was made in the person’s name to Send Relief,” Kimmel said. “That’s what I do with my brothers and sisters. They’re supportive of different organizations that are important to them. So, I’ll include a little note that says, ‘You bought two goats and a cow’ or ‘a chicken was purchased in your name.’ That makes it fun.”
Send Relief is an entirely transparent organization – its website details all of its areas of support, especially worldwide flashpoints like the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Hawaii wildfires, and the Morocco earthquake – which makes supporting MC Business’ Buy the Farm efforts worthwhile.
“I hope our students come away from this project with an understanding of the scope of need in the world and that they can make a difference, no matter how small the contribution,” Kimmel said. “With every dollar donated, not only are individuals getting some kind of literal, physical relief, but they’re also hearing the Gospel. They’re experiencing the Gospel the way Jesus told us to share it through the Great Commission.
“Send Relief is a great organization and we’re happy to partner with them.”