By Travis Mounts
While many area youth spend spring break on family vacations or hanging out with friends or, in some cases, doing not much of anything, other kids fanned out across the area to donate their time to numerous charities.
Each spring break, United Way of the Plains hosts its Youth Days of Caring. The program connects high school and middle school students with many different non-profit groups, including some in The Times-Sentinel’s coverage area.
Cloud 9 Therapeutic Equine Foundation, located on the north side of Suppesville on the Sedgwick-Sumner County line, was one of the organizations to benefit from the help of youth volunteers.
One of the volunteers was Tanner King, a senior at Eisenhower High School. He was there with several fellow church members who attend East Heights United Methodist Church. King said he was impressed with the work that Cloud 9 does.
“It’s cool how they give up their time to help people in need, veterans and people with disabilities,” he said.
King said volunteerism is important.
“It’s always good to volunteer. I had nothing to do, so helping out is better than doing nothing. It’s good to help in your community,” he said.
Jamie Wohlgemuth of Cloud 9 said this year was the third year the charity has been part of Youth Days of Caring.
“It helps with our spring kickoff. We get these spring projects done that would take longer. It’s fun watching the kids and the horses,” she said. “It’s really important to establish experience with philanthropy early on so they’ll be volunteers later. We’ve had some great volunteers out here.”
Volunteers were there for three days. Rain forced everyone inside on the first day, where they worked on cleaning and prepping saddles. Better weather the next two days allowed for a variety of outdoor chores, such as painting tractor tires that are being used as planters.
Volunteers are critical year-round for Cloud 9, which offers riding and equine therapy for people with a variety of physical and mental disabilities as well as conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Wohlgemuth said it can take as many as four people to help one person ride, depending on that person’s level of disability. The volunteers helped Cloud 9 serve more than 500 clients in one fashion or another in 2017.
“There’s a lot happening in little Suppesville, Kan.,” she said.
Things were hopping last week at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, too. Erinn Bock, education curator for the Goddard park, said students from Eisenhower High School and Goddard Middle School helped in three main areas last week, which was the first week of the season for Tanganyika.
Students helped with animal encounters, such as feeding giraffes. They worked alongside staff members and longtime volunteers. Other students helped behind the scenes doing things like cutting bamboo. Still others gave time to help with this weekend’s Bunny Bonanza at the park. About 35 students volunteered last week.
“It’s super important,” Bock said. “Any time we have volunteer help, it makes things go faster.”
Tanganyika Wildlife Park has participated in Youth Days of Caring for six or seven years, she said.
“There are many events and programs we put on that wouldn’t be possible without volunteer help,” Bock said.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the March 29 print edition of The Times-Sentinel. Subscribe to see stories like this first and for all your community news. Call 316-540-0500 today to get home delivery next week.