READING REINDEER: Edgewood Children’s Ranch | West Orange Times & Observer

The Edgewood Children’s Ranch has served as a safe environment and rescue haven for at-risk children and families since 1966. In its 56 years of existence, it has changed the lives of children ages 7 to 17 through counseling, structure, responsibility and education.

Edgewood has been a book recipient through Observer Media Group’s Reading Reindeer literacy campaign for more than 20 years.

“We appreciate the privilege of participating with the Reading Reindeer because sharing the gift of reading with our children is a priceless treasure,” said Bruce Jordan, the ranch’s executive director. “When a child has the opportunity to choose a book that inspires them, their world expands to include experiences, thoughts, and ideas that otherwise would be out of their reach.”

All books donated to the children at Edgewood are placed in the ranch library so everyone has access to them.

“We strive to provide opportunities for our children to experience how books open up new worlds of possibilities,” Jordan said.

“We are encouraged by the whole idea of ​​a community coming together to share books with others,” Jordan said. “A new book is a wonderful gift to receive, and just one book can spark someone to discover the joy of reading.”

The ranch was started in 1966, when Juvenile Court Judge D. Arthur Yergey saw a need for a residential facility for young, at-risk boys who showed negative social behaviors due to poor family situations. Years later, the program and facilities were expanded to include girls.

Edgewood is located off Old Winter Garden Road near Lake Hiawassee and runs entirely off donations. It is a voluntary, live-in program, and children typically stay there for two to two-and-one-half years. To be there, both children and their parents have to agree they want to change. The children live in cottages with a set of cottage parents, who ensure each child does chores, goes to the ranch school and does what is expected of him or her.

The goal of the faith-based program is to work with the children and their families, heal them emotionally and spiritually and reunite them as whole, healthy families.

Parents of the children are required to attend parenting classes, and the kids are taught how to acclimate back into society afterward.

The ranch is not government funded and runs entirely from donations. It is always looking for help, whether through volunteering or donating food or funds. Visit for more information.

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