September 20, 2006 -- Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has announced the beginning of a new charitable project called The Rider's Closet. "It's a program to help collect riders' used show clothes and an assortment of used riding equipment in good quality," Bloomberg said. "We'll then donate the items we collect to the various intercollegiate riding programs."
"It's been in the works for a couple of years," she said. "My father had a house that had been sold, and when I began to pack up, I found a closet full of old riding clothes that I had used during my pony days. Most of the clothes were in great shape because I had simply outgrown them. Everything was still in great condition and I really had no idea what to do with them. I wanted to pack them up and give them to somebody, but I had no idea where to turn or what to do."
Initially Bloomberg thought that therapeutic riding programs might be the best outlet. However, as it turns out, most of those programs don't use show clothes. A conversation with friends who participate in intercollegiate riding finally got the ball rolling.
"I was talking to Shayna Silverman, a friend of mine from New York University, and that's when the idea hit home," Bloomberg said. "She had gotten involved in riding at the college level but couldn't really afford the show clothes. The collegiate programs really don't get any funding, and finding appropriate clothes is tough for a lot of those hard working college students."
Former college champion rider John Pigott was instrumental in putting Bloomberg on the right track to get her program started. "John put me in touch with Bob Cacchione, who in turn, helped me touch base with Peter Cashman," she said.
Cashman, as it turns out, runs the U.S. military riding program and is in charge of the intercollegiate program in the New York area region. Cashman is also involved with Pony Clubs and 4-H programs in the area, which gives the Rider's Closet an outlet for pony-sized and young junior type clothing and equipment that might be too small for intercollegiate riders.
"I hope people will take the time to go through their riding clothes and pack up some stuff and send it our way," said Bloomberg. "They should know it's going to go a good home and to a great cause. We have the ability to change people's lives by helping to reduce their costs. Hopefully, through this effort we can help someone keep showing and riding, someone who might otherwise not be able to afford it."
The program is underway. Those who would like to donate can either ship the clothes and equipment directly to Bloomberg for distribution, or pickups at area locations can be arranged.
Shirts, coats, gloves, sticks, spurs, breeches, boots and schooling apparel are being accepted. "If it's something a rider has grown out of, something they no longer use--as long it's in a good, usable condition, we can use it all and we promise we will put it to good use," Bloomberg said.
For now they won't be collecting any horse equipment. "We're just going with rider gear to start. And, really, the only item we can't take in is helmets of any kind, because of the various safety concerns regarding headwear. Everything is tax deductible," she said.
Clothes and equipment can be sent to:
The Rider's Closet
Attn: Georgina Bloomberg
741 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY 10560
Bloomberg said that while this will begin as a regional project in the Northeast, there's no reason it can't go nationwide. "We're excited about getting started, and I see no reason why this program won't be a huge success."