Part Saturday Night Live, part Grand Ole Opry, this February’s Murphey School Radio Show aims to entertain while promoting local charity work.
All proceeds of the fifth show will go to Book Harvest, which distributes books to needy children in Orange and Durham counties, and SEEDS, a community garden that teaches Durham youth to care for the earth and themselves through a variety of programming.
The show is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Jay Miller and Ebeth Scott-Sinclair, who founded the Shared Visions Foundation, which organizes the show.
“The idea was that nonprofits — especially small nonprofits — could benefit from more collaboration,” said Peter Kramer, publicity volunteer for the foundation. “It encourages cooperation and planning among community agencies of the arts, education and the environment.”
The focus will be on children for the Feb. 23 show. Past themes include mental health, animal rights and housing.
“There’s really a lot that goes into this production,” Kramer said. “There’s all this talent, musicians, writers, comics. But then if you think of any theatre project, we have professional lighting, sound, video. On stage we have an announcer and a host. It’s a massive amount of effort.”
Headliners for the upcoming show include Elizabeth Hudson, Our State editor; Michael Parker, novelist and UNC-Greensboro professor; John Brown, jazz bassist and composer; and John Claude Bemis, children’s writer and musician.
“Every beneficiary we have, everyone can relate to them on some level,” Kramer said. “Anyone who knows the importance of books or healthy eating would want to support this.”
Tickets are available at murpheyschoolradio.net. Shared Visions is asking attendees to pay what they can and tickets range from $25 to $100 on the website.
Surrounded by countless children’s books in her garage in Chapel Hill, Ginger Young says she never expected her simple experiment to grow so quickly.
But Young, founder and president of Book Harvest, wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I got really fed up with the idea that my kids are growing up with plenty of books and there are kids just a stone’s throw from where we live that have no books at all,” Young says. “I’ve been stunned time and again by the generosity of people in the community.”
Book Harvest has distributed more than 100,000 donated books since it started in January 2011, of which 30 percent have gone to Durham.
Young says she couldn’t imagine her childhood without books, especially “Curious George.”
“I love the sense of adventure and the openness to the world that it embodies and the inquisitiveness,” she said. “That’s what I hope for all our children. I think books are the way to get them there.”
Around 30 to 50 volunteers work to sort and distribute books, including Sarah Burdick, who distributes books to Walltown Neighborhood Clinic and Catholic Charities of Durham.
“I have seen older women in there taking books home to their kids,” Burdick said. “They couldn’t believe they were free.”
“Not only am I providing books for kids, I’m providing a little bit of peace for haggard moms,” she said.
Young says the proceeds from the radio show will go toward moving the charity’s book storage and sorting out of her garage and into an office.
Emily Egge, executive director of SEEDS (South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces, Inc.), said she became involved in the nonprofit as part of a community garden tour more than five years ago.
Her commitment increased as she learned more about the organization’s mission to teach Durham youth about nutrition.
“It’s not just about eating your fruits and vegetables,” she said. “It’s where those came from. It’s how they get grown.”
SEEDS’ numerous programs support its mission to “educate youth and adults through gardening, growing food and cultivating respect for life, for Earth and for each other.” Around 750 to 1,000 people participate in SEEDS programming yearly.
The organization runs Southside Garden and the Garden of Eatin’. It also runs programs like Durham Inner-city Gardeners (DIG), which teaches teens organic gardening, business practices, healthy food choices and food security values, according to the SEEDS website.
Teens who participate in the program are paid a stipend for the food they grow, which is then sold at the Durham Farmers Market.
Egge said the nonprofit stresses hands-on activities as part of all of its programs.
“There’s no passive participation,” she said. ”It very much encourages them to tap into their sense of wonder.”
Proceeds from the Murphey School Radio Show will go toward revamping the nonprofit’s programs to take advantage of a planned building renovation.
Egge views the show as a valuable fundraiser, but also a way to spread the message of SEEDS.
“An event like this that builds its own base, that brings in lots of interest from different organizations, it really allows us to benefit by maximizing our voice,” she said. ”It’s a really tremendous opportunity to bring people together and share what we do.”
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