Volunteers from two organizations affiliated with Tarleton State University were recognized by Foster’s Home for Children on Saturday during their annual Children’s Day celebration.

Presented annually, the Myrtie Foster Awards recognize individuals and groups who “exhibit the spirit of sacrifice” in serving the children at the Foster’s Home. Among the four awards presented this year, volunteer members of Tarleton Mentors and T.R.E.A.T. (Tarleton Equine Assisted Therapy) were recognized for their continued service and kindness shown to the local non-profit foster home.

“You can’t fathom the value and significance of the Tarleton students’ work with our volunteers, staff and children,” Glenn Newberry, president and CEO of Foster’s Home for Children, said when presenting the awards. “Never in 20 years have we had this level of involvement and support from Tarleton State University, but we’ve had college students flock to our halls and we’re proud of our relationship with Tarleton and their presence on our campus.”

Tarleton Mentors was formed five years ago on campus and boasts approximately 70 members, said Laura Prewitt, founder and president of the student organization. Established by several agriculture students with experience in raising livestock for exhibition, Prewitt said Tarleton Mentors began as a volunteer group to assist Foster’s Home children with their 4-H animal projects.

Since then, the Tarleton Mentors, under the guidance of adviser Dr. Barry Lambert, has grown in membership with students from all academic disciplines and now help with numerous duties at Foster’s Home each week such as assisting with laundry, cleaning of the residential group care homes, reading and tutoring, and simply serving as mentors to the children.

“Tarleton Mentors has changed my life, and I also know of some of these kids who have changed the mentors’ lives,” said Prewitt, a counseling psychology graduate student at Tarleton. “We strive to steer the children towards continuing education and college. We show them our love, spend time with them and above all, show them we care.”

Shelby Thiebaud, accepting the award on behalf of Dr. David Snyder and the T.R.E.A.T. program, said welcoming Foster’s Home children to the university’s equine center each week for horseback rides is a blessing that provides Tarleton students with opportunities to give back to their community.

“The smiles on the children’s faces melt your heart,” said Thiebaud. “They gain confidence by riding horseback by themselves, and it’s beyond a blessing to work with the Foster’s Home kids. I want to thank them, actually, for coming to us.”