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A boy with a big "Hart"

Thirteen-year-old helps raise money for animals at HartSong Ranch
By: Stephanie Breitbart, Auburn Journal
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Peter Biersteker is a young man with a big heart. The Pilot Hill resident is on the honor roll at Northside School in Cool and he plays basketball on a recreation team in Auburn, but his big passion is raising money and awareness for a group of animals with disabilities. Thirteen-year-old Peter visited HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Greenwood a year ago and instantly connected with the animals and knew he wanted to help out. “I want to help them because I love animals and I feel sorry for them,” Peter said. HartSong Ranch is a permanent sanctuary for animals with disabilities and is run by Jim and Kathy Hart. Most of the animals living in HartSong Ranch are elderly or blind and all require some kind of specialized care. The ranch is a non-profit organization and funded entirely by donations and the support of the community. Kathy Hart is especially thankful for Peter and his dedication to the ranch. “He’s amazing and quite a remarkable young man,” Hart said, “He’s just a really great kid.” The ranch has 30 animals, including nine horses, chickens, a blind goat, cows and a pig. Peter bonded with all the animals at the ranch but had a special connection with Ciara, a 1 1/2 year-old filly, who was born blind and rescued by the Harts at an early age from a breeding farm in Central California. “Peter and Ciara just developed a love. She’s always very calm and knows when Peter’s at HartSong,” Hart said, “They have a very cute connection.” Peter’s father, Eric, said his son has always had a love for animals. “We have three dogs, two cats, a pony, 20 chickens and five sheep,” Eric Biersteker said. “Peter has his own incubator and helps raise the chickens.” With the desire to help the animals at HartSong, Peter left the ranch after his first visit and put out two donation cans at feed stores. As the word spread, people also sent him checks to donate to the ranch and before he knew it he had raised $1,200 in donations. There are now donation cans in various stores in Cool, Georgetown, Greenwood and Pilot Hill and Peter has opened up a donation fund at Wells Fargo Bank to make donating easy. He has also organized multiple fundraisers, including a Biscuits and Gravy cook-off to be held later this month. Peter says since there are a lot of bills that come with providing such a beautiful place for these animals to live, his goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of 2009. Eric Biersteker said raising money for the ranch has become a passion for his son. “He’s done a couple of car washes with his leadership group, and one raised more than $400,” Biersteker said, “He’s constantly trying to find ways to raise money for the ranch.” Through his different efforts in raising money, Peter’s quest now is to try and get the message of the HartSong Ranch out to kids and let them know they can make a difference. “He’s really trying to get people to commit to a donation program, really go after kids who love animals.” Biersteker said, “He would like to get 200 people every month to commit to $2, that would help so much.” Peter goes to the ranch about once a month to help with the animals. On these visits, he also gives the Harts the money he has raised during the month. Kathy Hart said all the money raised by Peter and the community goes toward the animals. “Money goes to feed and vet bills,” Hart said. “Donations come in and we have great feed suppliers that help out, too.” Peter encourages everyone to take a trip out to HartSong Ranch to see the animals in person, meet the Harts and find out the different ways your donations or time can help make a difference. “If you love animals, you’ll try to help any way you can.” Peter said. HartSong Ranch is a non-profit public benefit corporation. If you would like to help there are several options including: - Send donations to Peter Biersteker, PO Box 35, Pilot Hill, CA 95664. - Make a deposit in the HartSong Ranch Donation account at any Wells Fargo Bank. -Attend a Biscuit and Gravy cook-off fundraiser from 8:30-10:30 a.m., April 25 at Pilot Hill Grange Hall. Call Kathy Hart at (530) 887-1263 for tickets and more information. - Attend one of the monthly volunteer days at the ranch. Go to www.hartsongranch.org for more information. - Adopt one of the residents at the ranch through a monthly donation. - Donate feed or supplies to the ranch or through Cool Feed and Ranch Supply at (530) 887-0200. If you would like to suggest a volunteer for this feature, e-mail ajournal@goldcountrymedia.com or call (530) 852-0235.