by Aimee Levitt
Have a horrible fear of crowds? Feel like sleeping late on Black Friday? The Humane Society of Missouri has the solution for you! Instead of hiking out to the mall, sit down at your computer (you don't even have to get out of your pajamas!) and get the animal lover in your life a gift they will always remember: sponsorship of a Barn Buddy at the Humane Society's Longmeadow Rescue Ranch!
The Longmeadow Rescue Ranch is a refuge in Union, Missouri, in Franklin County where abused or neglected farm animals can find a safe haven. (It's sort of like a shelter for goats.) Under the Barn Buddy program, you can pay between $25 and $1,200 to sponsor a farm creature (or twelve) for three months or on an ongoing basis. There's a wide range of choices, including Binks the goose, Paris the hen, Tiny the goat, Jack the sheep, Juniper the miniature donkey, Calypso the miniature horse and Snortin' Norton the pig.
The sponsorship fees pay for the care and feeding of the animals. Some are just waiting to be adopted. Others, like the charismatic Mama Llama, are mascots who travel around and make TV appearances to educate the public about how to take care of animals.
In return, your gift-givee receives a certificate of care, a photo and biography of "their" animal and an opportunity to visit the farm to check in. That is the distinguishing factor between this program and Heifers International, which donates animals to farmers in the underdeveloped world. It's the gift that keeps on giving! Or at least eats up a couple of weekend days.