La PORTE — The La Porte County 4-H Horse and Pony Club has given back to the community in a lot of different ways in 2019, the organization said in a release.

According to the 4-H Horse and Pony Club, members meet for nine months each year to learn about horses and give back to their club, community and country. During the winter months, the youth continue to learn about horse upkeep, health and more.

This fall the EZ Riders launched their 4-H season with a Color Run Walk 5K. The event, held in October, was a fundraiser for the 4-H youth and five additional nonprofits in La Porte County. The committee was led by 4-H Youth Ambassador Hallee Petri, and had the support of several parents and 4-H youth. The focus of the event wasn’t about fundraising, but raising awareness of community projects deserving some attention for their good work, the club said. In addition, it gave the youth experience in leadership skills, including press releases and sponsorships, budgeting and advertising.

The following month, incoming 2019-20 Ambassadors Madeline Knight and Jessica Campbell took up collections at the Horse and Pony Youth Meeting. Each month the youth gather to learn more about 4-H as it relates to their project, provide input on budget items that pertains to their funds, learn about business meetings and how to handle parliamentary items, review their funding balances, discuss upcoming opportunities and changes they would like to see, socialize, and complete a service project, 4-H said.

Maddy Knight gathered nearly 50 coats to donate to Stepping Stone Shelter. The coats will go toward adults and youth in the community who are in need. When asked why she chose Stepping Stone Shelter, Maddy said, "I picked this project because there are so many people in the La Porte County area that do not have coats and need the extra help. I feel that the EZ Riders program made a difference in our community by helping out the less fortunate by keeping them warm this winter."

At the same meeting, Ambassador Jessica Campbell did a food collection for the Salvation Army. She collected 189 cans. Jessica said, "I chose this organization because of the things it does for our community. The donations that are received flow directly back to those families in need. They are families in the community, our neighbors, our friends and our loved ones. I admire what this organization stands for and for how much help it provides to those around us."

For the December community service project, Volunteer Rita Beaty coordinated the annual Elder Tree Caroling event at Golden Living Nursing Home. Members selected ornaments from The Giving Tree and then went shopping for wishes such as blankets, lotions, CDs, and other items. This past Tuesday evening, EZ Rider members gathered at the nursing home to provide songs, wrapped gifts for nearly 55 residents, and trays of cookies with hot cocoa. “I love watching the kids as they enjoy giving the gifts to the residents and this may be some of residents only Christmas. We all think about the kids at Christmas and sometimes forget our elderly who may not have much or anyone,” Rita said of the event.

The club said the adult led committee and many volunteers work side by side with the members instilling the values of what it is to be a good person outside of riding their horse for a week at fair each year. The horse and pony program has nearly 200 members and continues to grow each year, the organization said. With the support of the Purdue Extension Office Educators, members are encouraged to communicate in a productive, professional and positive manner. They learn to understand this is an opportunity to make a difference to those less fortunate, all while loving their horses and ponies.

To learn more about getting your youth involved, reach out to lp4hhorse@gmail.com or visit them at www.lp4hhorse.com

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