What better way to spend an hour or so than to be amused and amazed by a magician and help a worthy cause at the same time. On Saturday, Sept. 8, People Helping People (PHP) in Hernando County, Inc. held two magic shows at Springstead High School Theater. The purpose was to raise money for the organizations’ many social service programs.
There was an afternoon performance geared toward children and a family-friendly evening performance featuring more sophisticated magic acts. Local magician Elliott Smith entertained both groups with amusing antics and mystifying tricks. These acts included tearing a twenty dollar bill in pieces and then magically putting it back together, levitating a young member of the audience and taking pieces of different sized ropes, joining them into one rope and then separating them again.
Smith has been a performing magic for forty-three years across the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean. He has entertained political dignitaries like the Prime Minister of Canada and international ambassadors and has appeared with such well-known celebrities as Liberace and Jay Leno.
Before the show began, Evan Sommerfeld explained PHP’s purpose:
“Our mission is to end hunger in Hernando County by breaking the the cycle of poverty among the people it serves. People Helping People was founded in 2009 and has over 400 volunteers pouring out their hearts to alleviate hunger here,” Sommerfeld stated.
The organization does this through four programs that they call Blessings. The first is Sunday Blessings which serves about 133 meals every week to the needy. These include homeless people, the elderly on a fixed income and families that are barely scraping by.
Second is Weekend Blessings which is designed to feed school children who qualify for the subsidized school meal program and whose families have limited resources for food on the weekend. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and better attendance at school is often attributed to this program. Approximately 650 children participate every weekend.
Another program is called Seniors Blessings. It serves over 250 senior citizens by delivering groceries twice a month to those living in subsidized housing.
Neighborhood Blessings serves the homeless who may be living in the woods or in their cars. Volunteers deliver easy to open canned goods, toiletries and paper goods.
People Helping People also has a vegetable garden maintained by volunteers. It produces nutritious food such as carrots, kale, beets and onions to serve at the Sunday dinners.
The most ambitious project of People Helping People is the HELP Center located at 1396 Kass Circle in Spring Hill. Open in the Fall, it will be a place where people can obtain food, support and referrals to other agencies. It will include a commercial kitchen, dining room, showers and laundry facilities.
“The HELP Center will be a place where all community collaborators will have a place to meet on scheduled days to meet and seek out the clients biggest needs. With the opening of our HELP Center, PHP is bringing more help to our clients through more outreach programs that can give them a ‘hand up’ and not merely a ‘hand out,’ ” stated Board of Directors’ Executive Secretary Barbara Nassar.
Like any all-volunteer organization, People Helping People in Hernando County, Inc. requires community support to accomplish its mission and reach even higher goals. If you have time to volunteer or money to donate or both this is a worthwhile cause to support.
Next month, PHP will be having another fun-filled fundraiser. On Saturday October 6 it will hold its Hoe-Down for the Hungry at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Brooksville. The country and western-themed event will feature a saloon, dinner, line dance lessons, along with door prizes, as well as drawings for cash and gifts. You’re encouraged to wear western attire. So dust off your cowboy boots, put on your jeans and cowboy hats and mosey on down to the Hoe-Down for the Hungry.
For tickets to the event call 352-650-4521 and for more information on PHP go to http://phpinhc.org/