Why Eureka teen asked for, then gave, “Noah’s Ark” for Christmas

Why this Eureka teen gave away her "Noah's Ark" Christmas present

EUREKA — Mary Gayed wanted a “Noah’s Ark” for Christmas.

But the 15-year-old home-schooled member of St. Luke Parish wasn’t asking for a game or one of those play sets with a wooden boat and figures. She wanted real animals — a donkey, a couple of cows, 20 chicks, three pigs, two goats, and a bee hive.

Mary got her wish.

And then she gave the animals away.

That was the plan all along.

Mary, the daughter of Nasser Gayed and Deborah Drennan, donated the animals to people in need in Latin America and the Caribbean through the organization Food for the Poor. Other groups such as Heifer International or Save the Children offer similar opportunities to give a farm animal as a meaningful gift to provide self-sustaining income to families living in a Third World country.

“I got the idea from my grandparents in Ohio,” Mary told The Catholic Post. “At Christmas time they donated chickens to the poor in each of their children’s names.”

Two years ago Mary asked her parents not to get her Christmas gifts but instead provide money so that she could send a donkey to a family in need. Last year her request was the same.

“This year I got excited and wanted to do something big for those who are poor,” said Mary, who works with animals on a farm in rural Eureka. “I decided to put my full heart into it.”

Mary has a big heart. So do others who pitched in to help her raise the $1,895 needed to send the Noah’s Ark package.

In early fall, Mary decided to do one action a day toward her fundraising goal. It might be asking someone for a donation, baking something to sell, or saying a prayer.

“In early November I had a bake sale at my church, St. Luke’s, and in December the parish did a breakfast for donations,” said Mary. Those two events raised half the goal. Other groups, such as OSF Hospice, Whiz Kidz Academy and friends and family also donated. Her mother told her that if she got close enough to the goal, she would buy the donkey.

“I would like to say thank you to all of them,” said Mary.

She hopes the animals not only provide the families income and companionship, but hope. It has already brought Mary joy.

“It makes me feel happy to be able to help others in need,” she said. “I do it so others can learn to trust in God.”

“Doing this can change someone’s life,” said Mary. “I know how my animals have helped me.”

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