Dance the night away at HELP of Beaufort fundraiser

When HELP of Beaufort's pantry was becoming bare, Debbie Marcil, board member and fundraiser chairwoman, suggested holding a dance and an auction to help fund the relief agency formed by area churches.

"There are not many places to dance in Beaufort," Marcil said. "We thought this would be really neat to have a dance with music from the 1950s, as well as the music of today. We want to have all ages participate and have a good time while they are helping out a good cause."

From 8 to 10:30 p.m. May 5, the public is invited to don a costume from their favorite music era and dance the night away at the "Happy Days for HELP -- Dancing through the Decades" fundraiser at The Arsenal, 713 Craven St., Beaufort. Silent and live auctions begin at 6 p.m. Food, beer and wine will be served from six area restaurants. Music will be provided by Steve Curless, who is HELP's president as well as the owner of and talent for "Ramblin' Coastal DJ and Karaoke."

The dance and auctions are the group's major fundraising event this year.

Among the auction items are sharing a meal with four of your friends and Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, Beaufort City Councilwoman Donnie Beer and state Rep. Shannon Erickson R-Beaufort.

The economic climate has forced HELP volunteers to look to a larger fundraiser than the previous silent auction and fish fry.

HELP is supported by area churches, grants, the United Way and donations.

In 2011, HELP's almost 90 volunteers served more than 9,000 people.

"The need is so great," said Catherine Pardue, who is in charge of marketing for HELP.

"HELP has been in Beaufort for so long and we were somewhat surprised that a lot of people aren't familiar with our services," Pardue said. "Hopefully through advertising the fundraiser and getting out in the community, we are helping to bring awareness to the needs and our services."

The 39-year-old organization helps people in two ways. At the HELP House at 1910 Baggett St., Beaufort, people may receive emergency services of food, clothing, medical assistance, rent and utilities. The nonprofit group's second division, HELP Mobile Meals, delivers food prepared by Beaufort Memorial Hospital's cafeteria to ill or disabled people.

On April 28, HELP was among the hosts of an "Everybody Counts" event during which those in need, including the homeless, received referrals, clothing, haircuts, hygiene packets and health screenings aboard Beaufort Memorial Hospital's Mobile Wellness Van.

HELP's role in serving the homeless is crucial, according to Fred Leyda, Beaufort County Alliance for Human Services facilitator.

"HELP of Beaufort has become almost our first line of defense in helping to connect folks to resources," Leyda said. "Preliminary numbers look like we documented about 28 homeless people at Saturday's event."