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Hoedown for the Hungry

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It’s an old-fashioned, root-tootin’ good time for a great cause. People Helping People invites the public to dust off your cowboy hat, polish your spurs and ruffle those petticoats because the Hoedown for the Hungry is happening again! The 10th Annual Hoedown for the Hungry, with proceeds benefiting People Helping People in Hernando County, Inc., and its many programs, will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Silverthorn Country Club. This down-home festivity will take place at a saloon that opens its doors at 6 pm, one that features line dance lessons and a full menu of country vittles served at 7 pm.

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“This year’s Hoedown for the Hungry is our 11th!” said Kendra Kenney, executive director of People Helping People in Hernando County, Inc. “It’s our biggest and most important fundraiser as we usually are able to net at least $50K.”

Proceeds from this event benefit PHP’s various programs, including Weekend Blessings for students in Hernando County schools; Sunday Blessings community meal; Senior Blessings groceries for seniors in low-income housing; Neighborhood Blessings food, supplies and showers for the homeless and financially impoverished; the computer labs for job searches, benefits enrollment, and GED classes; and a free medical walk-in clinic for the uninsured.

In addition, Kenney shares, the 2017 Hoedown supported the PHP building fund to facilitate the construction of their HELP Center on Kass Circle. Monies raised in other years have gone into the agency’s general fund.

This year’s HoeDown is a vital and much-needed fund-raiser on the PHP calendar. Since the advent of Covid-19, all of the agency’s fundraising events have been canceled or postponed. People Helping People, according to information supplied by the agency, is in great need of donations, grants and fundraising events to keep feeding hungry children, seniors, working poor, and homeless in Hernando County. Although the demand from hungry people for food is increasing, donations and grants are significantly down, so fundraising is even more important.

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“We had to hold the Hoedown as a virtual event in 2020 and 2021 and only received about half of what we do when people can be together in person and enjoy all of the fun the night holds,” said Kenney. “People have been waiting to have a fun night out and we believe this is one of those opportunities. It’s a chance to be together with others who share the same passion of helping the hungry and homeless in Hernando County. I know I’ll be there with my boots on!”

Part of the fun lies in the form of a delicious supper. “The Hoedown will be held this year at Silverthorn and the menu is keeping with the theme – a Chuck Wagon Buffet,” explained Kenney. “It includes appetizers, chili and potato soups, steak and mushroom salad, a fish fry, fried chicken, and a carving station.”

Also planned for the evening will be a raffle and silent auction and some vibrant musical entertainment and, of course, country line dancing! “What would a fundraiser be without a 50/50 raffle and plenty of gift baskets, beautiful homemade quilts, a painting, and other items are available to bid on in our silent auction,” said Kenney. “The entertainment includes DJ Richie Sanvenero spinning tunes and also offering country line dancing lessons.”

And as they enjoy a most festive hoedown, guests are invited to dress the part. “We hope people will join in the fun by wearing western garb,” said Kenney, “but it’s not a requirement.” Those interested in supporting the PHP Hoedown for the Hungry can purchase a ticket for $75. At the event, they can purchase tickets to win a gift basket and 50/50 drawing. For more information, visit www.phphernando.org/hoedown, email [email protected] or call 352-686-4466. “Any help you can give is greatly appreciated,” read information supplied by People Helping People, “as PHP continues to take a bite out of hunger in Hernando County!”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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