Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Helping Rivers Edge Horse Rescue

Wade, Grant, and Blaire around the kitchen table making dog treats.

Hello fellow readers, Sometimes, when you hear a story of kindness, it needs to be shared, especially when it involves children helping an organization in dire need of funds. Wade, Blaire, and Grant, of Stillwater, NJ, took it upon themselves to fundraise for Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in Newton, NJ. I had the privilege of interviewing the young philanthropists just before the New Year.

a boy with a baking tray of dog treats wiht a brown and back wirey haired dog.

“We had the idea to make money to give to them,” Wade explained.

a girl and boy baking star shaped dog treats

Grant piped in, “YOU can even eat em.”

Wade, age ten, explained they read an article “that the horse sanctuary didn’t get donations because of COVID. So, we had the idea of making dog treats to make money to give to them.”

The family boards horses and knows what’s involved with caring for them. “What do you think about horses that need to be rescued?”

“I feel excited about giving to them and helping.” Blaire, age nine, said.

Four-year-old Grant piped in, “You can even eat-em” The dog treats, that is, made with peanut butter and sweet potatoes.

The mom of the kindhearted kids adds, “I was so excited that they were excited to help out. We started baking, and Blaire grabbed my phone and began calling my customers. You can’t call customers’,” Rachel laughed. “Within a few hours, they already raised $450.”

Rachel and her husband Andrew have been gardening associates, become friends for fifteen years. Not only did they foot the bill and footwork for supplies and delivering cookies, but they also contributed $100 to the sanctuary.

Blaire filling out cards to add to packaged dog treats

“I feel excited about helping,” Blaire said.

The children’s goal is to raise $1,000, and they have raised $800 to date, but they have not been baking as of late. “Life is busy trying to balance work the craziness of remote/in-person school,” Rachel said.

The angels of Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary

I’ll visit the sanctuary when the kids are back in the saddle of baking dog treats. But for now, Diane Romano-Potocki, founder of Rivers Edge Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, graciously visited by phone. The non-profit sanctuary has provided forever homes for “abused, abandoned, and unwanted horses” since 2010.

It’s just two people, Diane and one other, who tend to the 28 horses each day from dawn until nine or ten PM. She has five volunteers that come when they can. There’s an upcoming training for new volunteers, for which there is a great need.

They are most in need of winter hay. “We use 160 bales a week, which cost seven to eight dollars each. That’s about $1,200 a week plus grains, medications, special supplements, and veterinary care.” All donations, no matter how small, is appreciated. It’s located on 104 Halsey Road in Newton, NJ 07860 for those that would like to donate.

The conditions where the horses came from are hard to hear.

Diane’s love and compassion over her life’s work fill the rescue stories, though the conditions where the horses came from are hard to hear. One rescue came as a desperate call from the NY State Attorney Generals’ office, who tracked them down as no local rescue stepped in on an abandoned horse left to feed off weeds. She traveled to Binghamton, NY, with her water tank loaded.

“He was skin and bones and fought so hard to live.” Buddy died after five months. “But at least he was loved and cared for those months.”

It troubles Diane that no laws here protect horses, and she dreams of being part of an initiative to create one, “maybe call it Buddy’s Law so that no other horses have the same fate.”

I asked Diane what inspired her life’s work. “Being an injured soul myself,” she said not for sympathy but went on to tell the story of how she brought home half-dead things to her mom when she was a girl.

two horses eating grass in front of a red barn“Anything worthwhile is not easy.”

It’s inspiring to speak with three youngsters taking the initiative to help. And a grown-up kid who follows her heart.

“It’s not been easy, but anything worthwhile is not easy—To see the horses, their mane and tails just running free. You have to be here to experience it.” Diane invites people to do that by contacting them to arrange a visit.

Garden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

An elderly woman in a wheel chair petting a brown horse.

My Mom, Emma Stone, is enjoying horse therapy in June 2014.


My chat with Diane left my heart full but also aching for the animals still in need. The subject of boy versus girl horses came up as the interview was wrapping up.

“Mares (the girls) are like elephants. They don’t forget. But I love my girls. They don’t take no crap.” Diane said.

I laughed and shared, “My Mom, a horse lover, used to call me Mares when I was a girl. Now I wonder if my nickname had a double meaning.”

Visit Rivers Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary to learn more about their remarkable mission. And you’ll enjoy a podcast episode featuring this heartfelt organization (click the green arrow button below).

You’ll enjoy a previous column about an organization rescuing animals, Father John’s Animal House Garden. 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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