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Two stories that moved readers to want to help

January 23, 2008 |  1:17 pm

A report on a national cause for concern, and a look at a local organization, brought response from readers who called the stories "eye-opening" and asked how to get involved.

Jenny Jarvie's Jan. 13 article about how the drought and an overpopulation of horses has left many of the animals abandoned and starving brought more than 60 comments. Most appreciated learning about the situation and wanted to help; the few criticisms that came mostly took issue with the focus of the article.

And Ann Simmons' Jan. 21 Column One on African American women in Los Angeles "adopting" black servicewomen in Iraq brought thanks -- as well as a few questions about the group's emphasis.

As the headline put it, "Drought is a hard time for horses: Many are ending up in slaughterhouses or on back roads, left to die, because of overpopulation and expensive feed."

The article, by Jenny Jarvie, brought several dozen e-mails like the one from Rose Mary Allmendinger of Colorado Springs: "THANK YOU very much for trying to acquaint your readers with the problem and the severity of it."

One complaint came from a reader who believed that the story should have reported more critically on the role played by the Humane Society of the United States; a few other readers thought that the story should have examined other factors more, such as the economy.

Most readers sent praise and asked how to help. A few took further action. Beth Helms of Pound Ridge, N.Y., said in an e-mail: "We didn’t know this was going on and are universally horrified. We are beginning to buy hay and arranging to ship it down to Tennessee, the Carolinas, Kentucky and elsewhere. ... I’d love any phone numbers or other contact information. …We want to help." In a follow-up e-mail, Helms said, "We’ve got quite a little grassroots effort going now," one that they've coordinated with a local equine veterinary practice, and added, "We’ve already financed a first tractor trailer load of hay, which is on the road now, enough to feed the Tennessee horses (mentioned in the article) for two months."

Responding to requests to help, staff writer Jarvie noted , "There's no national horse rescue organization, so I've given readers addresses for some of the rescue centers I mentioned in the article."

The addresses that Jarvie provided: US Equine Rescue League - Administrative Office, P.O. Box 317, Pendleton, IN 46064.

And donations to Christopher Takacs, who, as the story reported, built a barn for one abandoned racehorse and has in the last six months set up an equine rescue center, can be sent to:

Buckland Equine Rescue, Inc.
c/o Traditional Bank
3333 Lexington Road
Paris, Kentucky 40362

Jarvie also includes this webpage listing rescue groups in California and elsewhere.

"Sister soldiers": The Column One about a group of professional African American women who have "adopted" about 40 servicewomen -- as one member of Sisterfriends put it, "We wanted to reach out as black women to other black women in need" in Iraq -- brought more than two dozen emails, the majority positive, almost all asking how they could help. Bill Franklin of Banning started his note of praise by giving his background: "Five years regular Marines, 25 in reserve." He continued, "I know what they are going through and now many of your readers do also.  I value their service and yours very much."

Teresa Clarke of New York city wrote of the story, "Incredibly inspirational and eye-opening.  As a black woman, your article did a lot to help me feel more connected to the troops, and to empathize with their plight."

And Charles P. Martin of Los Angeles said, "Everytime you read stories like this, it's usually a white group doing it. I was overjoyed to read a story like this. Please give some details, or pass my phone number to this group for a donation.  Good story."

Another take on the issue of color came from David F. Troescher of Santa Maria, founder of a group called Committee To Honor California Veterans (www.chcv.org). He wrote, "I compliment you for your article concerning women serving in our current hot spots. However, speaking as a veteran, I would like to point out that veterans, and our military, come in one color, olive drab. We leave it to others to attache such identifiers."

But a few readers asked a question that was along the lines of one from Olga Damascus of Los Angeles: "Out of curiosity, if you were commenting on a bunch of white women sending items ONLY to white soldiers and OPENLY discriminating against black soldiers, would your article be positive or would it be a commentary on racism?"

Finally, from Debra Stephens of San Diego: "Wonderful job. I think this story will motivate many people to see that there is something they can do to help our troops.  As the article pointed out, our troops have needs that have never crossed our minds.  Additionally, this article shows us that we can 'light a candle and not just curse the darkness' whenever we think about our country being at war.  While the needs of the Afr-Amer female troops are only part of the whole, I think the whole will benefit.  Thanks for shining the light."

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