Poets and artists help hungry

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:17

    Three-month effort partners with Empty Bowl Sale to help 30 organizations Sussex County — Several programs put on by a local poet, his history-based club and award-winning publications have netted more than $1,000 for local food pantries. The Six Centuries Club and Sensations Magazine created their annual PHANfest (Poets Helping America's Needy) food pantry fundraiser to channel the creative energies of poets with the collaborative community effort to help others. Poets make a donation to read in public, and the full proceeds are donated to food pantries. PHANfest 2 came to the Sussex-Wantage Library on Saturday June 11 and despite the torrential rain — which prevented their use of the outdoor amphitheater — a capacity crowd offered a dynamic two-hour sharing of poetry. In addition, four literary organizations: Sensations Magazine, Snake Hill Press, The Poet's Press and the North Jersey Literary Society, hosted tables with items to sell as well as flyers for upcoming events. This was the first time the annual event was held in Sussex County. Since dual hosts The Six Centuries Club and Sensations Magazine have been based in Sussex County for the past five years, the decision was made by founder/organizer David Messineo that all proceeds from this event would be divided among Sussex County food pantries and hot lunch programs only. The list of 30 or so beneficiaries can still be found at www.sensationsmag.com, "PHANfest" button. At the June poetry event, several people who had taken part in an Empty Bowl sale at High Point Regional High School to benefit food pantries in previous years were inspired to conduct an Empty Bowl sale again. That brought in a $211 donation. Each bowl was hand-made by students and teachers at High Point's Fine Arts department. They were hand crafted pottery bowls made in the Crafts classes. Lisa Hodgins, Erin Meyers and student council advisor Christine Henry helped in this year's effort. An additional donation of $75 came from the High Point Student Council. But the story doesn't end there. As a solo effort, Messineo continued the food pantry fundraising into July, August and September, by mentioning it at poetry performances he took part in, ranging from an open mic at the Good Question Gallery in Augusta to a feature reading he did in Bloomfield. That additional effort pushed the proceeds to $1,100. "All of the promised donations to the food pantries have been mailed as of this writing, and we have received acknowledgements of receipt of donation back from about 95 percent of them," Messineo notes. The Six Centuries Club, with its American history focus, will be closing its doors in December after a successful five-year run in our county. Award-winning Sensations Magazine is celebrating its 25th anniversary of operation in New Jersey without government grant funding nor university affiliation. Their final events for 2011 are now posted at www.sensationsmag.com, "Upcoming Events" button. Messineo says his efforts to help stave off hunger in New Jersey are not over. The next installment of PHANfest will be held in 2012 in another New Jersey county yet to be determined.