ABC11 Together: Viewers donate to Raleigh non-profit hit by thieves

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh non-profit that fell victim to theft is thanking the community for helping it get back to serving people with special needs.

In the days following ABC11's report about thieves stealing stuffed birds that riders at Helping Horse Therapeutic Riding Program use on their nature trail, donations poured in.

Jackie Saxton, Executive Director of Helping Horse, said neighbors and ABC11 viewers donated more than a dozen birds to replace those that were taken, as well as more than $400 in cash donations.

"The outpouring of support was just overwhelming to us and we're so very, very grateful," Saxton said.

Since Easter weekend, stuffed birds that used to stay overnight inside birdhouses on the farm's nature trail were stolen twice.

Riders with autism, Down syndrome, and other special needs ride horses on the trail and use the birds that chirp when squeezed, to grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.

"The things that they get to touch and feel and hear...so they were very disappointed," Saxton said. "It was disappointing to all of us to think that somebody would come on to the property and take those items from us."

While the staff, made up entirely of volunteers, still doesn't know who was behind the theft, they're grateful to now have an abundance of birds for their riders to enjoy.

"We really want people to understand who we serve here and what we're doing and what our purpose is," said Saxton.
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