Over the centuries, goats have gotten a bad rap. In the Old Testament, a goat was used as a representation of people’s sins (the “scapegoat“). In the New Testament, when Jesus talked about separating “the sheep and the goats,” it was clear you didn’t want to side with the goats.

Back in the Middle Ages, Christians were suspicious of goats because they associated them with evil. If any animal could be Satanic, they reasoned, it would be a goat. After all, the lecherous and profoundly pagan Greek god Pan was part goat. The devil himself was often depicted with goat-looking features (horns and a goatee). Superstitions involving the satanic Black Mass always involved the sacrifice of a goat.

Is there a sillier-looking animal on the planet than a goat? I’m not sure. A solitary goose is a pretty goofy creature, what with the honking and all, but several geese together in flight can be impressive. But there is nothing impressive about a flock of goats, other than their cumulative digestive power.

But this week, my friend Matthew Paul Turner (whose birthday is today) is helping out World Vision this Christmas season by promoting their Give a Goat campaign. For $75, you can give a goat to a family somewhere in the world. And if you do it, that family will be happy — despite having received a doofus-y and possibly demonic animal.

Here’s why: Goats can provide up to 16 cups of milk a day, which is ideal for hungry children and families who’ll be nourished by that milk, along with cheese and yogurt. The calcium, protein and calories these products provide can be lifesaving.

Goats help in a lot of other ways, too. Families can sell the extra dairy products at the market, sell baby goats when/if they come along, and use manure for fertilizer.

Give me a goat and I’ll be annoyed, because what am I going to do with a goat? You know what happened when Greg Brady stole a rival team’s goat and brought it home? Hijinks happened. And hilarious 70s-era mayhem. That’s not for me. Personally, I’d rather have a $75 gift card.

But give a goat to a family that needs one and they’ll thrive. Their kids won’t go hungry. They’ll use it for renewable income. They will treasure that goat.

Perhaps it’s time, this Christmas, to redeem the goat.

To donate a goat to a needy family for Christmas, visit World Vision’s online goat donation page here.

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