It all started with three girls and three goats.

Seven years later, the 4-H chapter at the Foster’s Home for Children is home to more than 30 kids and 60 animals including steers, goats, lambs and hogs.

“It just has been an amazing deal,” said Ricky Caudle, who helped the launch the program. “It started out as a small thing that we hoped would be a positive thing for kids in a bad situation. It has grown leaps and bounds thanks to people in the community.”

Caudle, who grew up in Erath County, said he has been involved with 4-H since he was a child. He said he stayed involved because of the rich family environment surrounding the program. Caudle did not think the Foster’s Home should be any exception to the family environment.

“(The families) didn’t disappoint me,” Caudle said. “They accepted our kids.”

And many parent’s involvement has influenced the younger generation to lend a helping hand too. Other 4-H-ers from Stephenville, Dublin and Huckabay often offer show advice to the Foster’s Home children.

“That is just, to me, amazing,” Caudle said.

The children have been receptive to the advice and welcomed many friendships from involvement with the program.

“The whole acceptance thing can be tough,” Caudle said.

The support has been vital to a program that relies heavily on donations, especially as its members gear up for another year at the Erath County Junior Livestock Stock Show, which is just days away. The show begins Jan. 9 with dairy events at the Erath County Livestock Arena.

Caudle said support has come from local feed stores, veterinarians, agriculture teachers, county agents and individuals raising show animals.

“I can’t start to mention names because I would leave someone out. There is no end of the support we have had from people in the community,” Caudle said.

It is hard work to supervise the care and maintenance of the animals, he said. The hard work pays off though, especially when a child smiles. Caudle attributes the smiles to a generous community.

“It makes me proud to live in an area where people are so generous with their time as well as how they help the program in other ways,” Caudle said. “It just gives you a good feeling to live in a place like this and I know the kids will never forget that.”