Storybook Farm is opening their barn doors to allow Auburn students and people of the general public to volunteer during this fall season.
The farm is a faith-based nonprofit organization located in Opelika that allows people, ranging from two years old up to young adulthood, with disabilities to escape their daily routines to ride horses, play with animals, grow vegetables in the garden and participate in arts and crafts.
Each animal in the farm is named after a famous literary character like Friar Tuck or Boo Radley.
Storybook aims to give its visitors an experience similar to stepping into their favorite childhood books.
Founder and Executive Director Dena Little said the staff “believes magic happens at Storybook Farm every day.”
The overall mission of this nonprofit organization “is to walk alongside families that have uncertain futures that are dealing with crisis situations,” Little said.
Volunteers and staff walk with these families both figuratively in life, she said, and literally as they lead the horses around the farm.
Storybook Farm is seeking dependable volunteers that are able to keep a steady volunteering schedule throughout the season.
Volunteers fill a number of roles: working with children, helping around the farm and caring for the almost 40 animals there.
The staff explained that whether you have equine experience or have never even seen a horse before, they train everyone in order to be a successful and knowledgeable volunteer.
“The mentoring ability [allows volunteers] to utilize gifts and talents in order to give back to someone that is walking down a tough path,” Little said.
The programs officially begins on Sept. 18, and the farm is preparing for the 1,500 children they are expecting to participate in their weekly activities.
One piece of their mission is to never have a family pay for the services they receive at Storybook Farm. Whether a family has 10 children riding horses or one, the staff has always promised free mentoring and riding to all who pass through the front gate.
Because of their operating costs, they must have funding in order to support and keep the nonprofit running. Right now, they have many corporate partners and participate in fundraising initiatives to raise money that goes directly into the programming for the children.
The farm is also raising money through gameday parking. Funds raised from parking passes purchased from Regions Bank on home football gamedays go directly to Storybook Farm.
This season, they are also holding a community-wide fundraising initiative, Storybook Stakes, which allows anyone to help raise money by creating a fundraising page and have followers text in or click to donate. This works just like a horse race. The horse with the most donations gallops across the finish line first.
Auburn University is also getting involved by creating a student-led, on-campus organization this fall. The club will be holding events to help raise money on campus as well as volunteering in their spare time.The organization has recruited a staff determined to change the community around them for the better.
“We are making a difference not only in the lives of the kids and staff but everyone who gets involved in Storybook,” said Andrew Skinner, volunteer coordinator.
Storybook Farm or “The Disney World of Lee County,” as nicknamed by Little, is excited for the upcoming programs with new and familiar faces from the kids involved to the volunteers.