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Shop art, support local animals in need

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As the holiday season is well underway, two holiday-themed events here in Hernando offer art for the animals–beautiful arty items that would make ideal gifts. And as they peruse these ebullient and colorful creations, participants will be helping animals in need.

The “Paws & Claus” Holiday Art & Crafts Fair will be celebrated November 26th & 27th, from 10 am to 3 pm at the Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane, in Brooksville. This fair will offer fine art and craft pieces handcrafted by 51 local artisans and displayed for sale both outside and inside the country club, with items up for offer including doll furniture, bird houses, and feeders, fine art including watercolors and acrylics, wood carvings and mixed media, Christmas adornments, and many more unique items.

“This is our fourth consecutive year,” said Event Organizer Linda Allen, who organizes the fair with help from Dennis Allen and Betty Brown. “All items must be handmade, and this year we have seven fine artists and many craftspeople from Hernando County offering their best handiwork. And as the event takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving, Black Friday weekend, we thought it could provide a great opportunity for holiday shopping.”

Proceeds will benefit three area animal charities: Paw Warriors, FurEver Friendz, and Operation Kindness. “People love to support charities that help children or pets,” she said. “And we are very familiar with these three organizations and the amazing work that they do.”

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Tracie Steger, president of Paw Warriors, Inc., sees ‘Paws & Claws’ as an important annual event for her organization. Paw Warriors is a non-profit 501(c)3 based at 355 Spring Time Street in Spring Hill. Their mission is rescuing sick/injured street cats and; vetting and caring for them. Stieger stated, “Our ultimate goal is seeing them heal and adopted by a loving family. We have approximately 180 cats at the rescue at any given time. Our biggest expense is veterinary care and medical supplies.”

“For the past several years, Linda Allen, one of our supporters, has worked diligently in putting this ‘Paws & Claus’ craft fair event together to benefit Paw Warriors and other local animal rescues,” Steger explained. “The timing of ‘Paws & Claus’ craft fair fundraiser coincides with our annual rabies clinic in December. This is where we have a vet come onsite to update our longer-term residents on their rabies and booster vaccines, which usually cost around $1,500. This is essential for our organization to maintain compliance for a county kennel license.”

Debra Sarver, president of FurEver Friendz Inc., a registered 501c3, non-profit, foster-based animal rescue organization, agrees that Paws and Claus is richly beneficial to her organization. “Paws & Claus is a wonderful event every year that we are very appreciative to be a part of,” she said. “This event helps support our everyday needs in taking care of the animals such as their medical, food, medications, and flea and heartworm prevention. The support that we receive from the community allows us to continue our mission and save more lives!”

Operation Kindness for Hernando County Animal Services, Inc., was formed by local animal advocates to enhance the quality of life, increase adoptions and educate the public on behalf of the animals at HCAS. Their services include actively pursuing opportunities for and participating in adoption events, offering community education and outreach highlighting the responsibilities of pet ownership ( including spaying/neutering). Operation Kindness is also involved in raising, receiving, and disbursing funds for the benefit and care of animals in placement and providing for the additional needs of the animals the county budget cannot cover.

“These services could include anything from medical procedures to providing things that enhance the animals’ lives,” said Abby Evert, president of Operation Kindness. “We make unadoptable animals adoptable. We are so grateful to Linda Allen and Paws and Claus for making us a beneficiary of this event.”

In addition to collecting funds for and spreading awareness about animal welfare, representatives of animal help organizations will have pets on hand, ready for adoption. “A good number of animal adoption agencies will be on hand, with animals ready to be adopted,” said Allen.

Animal adoption is also the primary focus of Ray’s House of Hope, which is hosting its 2nd Annual Online Holiday Auction benefiting its resident population of senior pets–giving them, as per an agency motto, “a new leash on life.”

“Last year’s auction raised $2,276,” said Joanne Schoch with Ray’s House of Hope, Inc. “Proceeds will be used for medical expenses for the seniors at Ray’s House.”

Items for auction may make ideal holiday gifts, with many qualifying as works of art. These include a beautiful new custom-made quilt, a Venetian glass rooster/cockerel, a Precious Moments cat figurine, a genuine Brahmin handbag, four holiday pet coasters, a Christmas tree topper and stocking, a fun and whimsy custom-made quilt, photography packages, a 70th Anniversary Queen Elizabeth II doll, and more, gift cards, trips, dining packages, and vintage items are also up for offer.

“The generosity of our community, both businesses and residents, is overwhelming. We have had cash donations as sponsorships, as well as general cash donations,” said Schoch. “The variety of items donated by the community makes the auction an event for everyone, whether they are shopping for themselves or for the holidays. Several of the items in the auction (like pet food donations) are for supplies for our senior pets.”

While the auction is easily accessible on all smartphones, the best view is from a computer. Visit http://bit.ly/3XlssON to shop and bid. Bidding ends Nov. 28.

“Senior pets often get forgotten, and the outpouring of support for their care is so heartwarming,” said Schoch.

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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