Program That Pairs Rescue Animals With Kids In Crisis For Free Moves Forward After Tragedy

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For the past 10 years, Sandra Seabrook has been running a beautiful non-profit program in upstate New York called Purpose Farm, a youth mentoring program where rescue animals become therapy animals to young people going through difficult times. 

"The animals come from similar circumstances of neglect and abuse," Sandra explains. 

"When the kids come to the farm, it's an immediate attraction with the animals, because they have similar circumstances. The kids see that right away, and they relate to that," Sandra says. And once they start taking care of the animals — walking them, feeding them and more — that, she says, "is when the magic really happens."

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Over the past decade, Purpose Farm has been able to save about 80 animals, including cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, pigs, alpacas, rabbits, chinchillas, even a camel. "A little bit of everything," she says. 

Purpose Farm animals
Rachael Ray Show

But earlier this year, a heartbreaking tragedy struck the farm. A huge fire broke out in the main barn, and though Sandra tried everything she could, the fire completely overtook the structure, and she lost 11 animals that day. 

"After the fire, our family was pretty devastated," Sandra shares. "You really can't believe what just happened, to have that many animals gone."

While Sandra says the farm was insured, it was very under-insured. And while she's been able to raise about $63,000 online, she says it's nearly impossible for her to get the money needed to rebuild the barns exactly as they were. 

Still, Sandra and her family have powered on, continuing to hold sessions with the animals and children, but modifying the structure of the sessions so that everything can be outside. 

"Even though you've been going through a tragedy or something bad has happened to you," says Sandra, "[you've] got to pick yourself back up and you have to continue to go on."

And fortunately, she's not alone. Not only has Sandra's community rallied around her, but Duluth Trading Company donated $20,000 to help Sandra and her family rebuild their farm. Watch Sandra's reaction as Rachael delivers the emotional news in the video above!

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