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      Charities look to farmers for fundraising

      Unique fundraising partnership involves farmers, cows and a program that links them.

      At a time when charities are having trouble raising funds, one group is trying something new.

      Fellowship of Christian Athletes State Director Scott Ashton has found a unique connection to raise support for his work in FCA and it involves cows on a Boone County farm. He says it's fund raising ??outside the box.??

      The partnership works like this, a program called Steer Incorporated buys the cows and the farmer, feeds and cares for them like any other animal in the herd.

      Boone County farmer Ben Voeller started raising two cows to benefit FCA, ??Now here six or seven years later we have six.??

      It's ongoing support Ashton can rely on year after year as the calves from those cows are sold.

      ??That's huge for our budget, I mean that's $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 a year that comes in that we can count on, that we don't have to raise elsewhere,?? explains Ashton.

      It's not just cows but crops and other livestock that farmers can raise through the program and give the money to the Christian charity of their choice.

      Steer Inc. has grown to include 1200 farmers and ranchers in 38 states.

      ??You know if you think about having 1000 farmers and ranchers in an auditorium and passing and offering plate around what would you expect? It's usually not much because cash is hard to come by in farming and ranching, but through Steer the same guys are sending well over $1 million a year to missions,?? says Ivan Freisen, Ministry Development Assistant for Steer Inc.

      FCA has more than 40 "Huddle" meetings across Mid-Missouri.

      Rock Bridge High School senior Tanner Cranford says being in FCA brings him a sense of belonging. ??Having a group of people that I know share the same values beliefs in Christ, but also in athletics.. it just gives you that sense of community and sense of belonging.??

      The group also sponsors yearly conferences and camps. Ashton says FCA missionaries minister to the coaches who minister to their athletes.

      In addition to FCA, Campus Crusade for Christ or CRU is the biggest recipient of funds through the Steer Program which supports almost 100 Christian charities globally.