Cream puffs were transformed into calculators and La-Z-Boys into library books as items were auctioned off to generous community members during Saturday evening’s Starlight Gala.
The flagship fundraiser of the Mount Shasta Education Foundation, the 19th annual Gala provides monetary enrichment for Mount Shasta’s public schools, said the organization’s president, Beth Neumeyer.
Foundation board member Kris Wolmar said he didn’t have any exact number on the amount raised Saturday evening, but auctioned items topped $18,000. Tickets were nearly sold out, and they sold out of wine once and had to run out and get more.
“It was a fabulous night,” said Neumeyer. “So many people pulled together to make this a successful event. I am awed by the generosity of our community. It is heartwarming to see folks support our local schools in such a big way.”
The Education Foundation has provided more than half a million dollars over the past 19 years to enrich the experience of students at Mount Shasta Elementary, Sisson, Mount Shasta High and Jefferson High, Wolmar said as he addressed the crowd.
The black-tie event at the Mount Shasta Community Building featured entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, conversation, raffle prizes, and both live and silent auctions for items donated by local businesses and individuals.
Perhaps the most unusual item to be auctioned in several years was a pair of Russian tortoises, donated for the silent auction by Caryn and Jeff Crago. Dueling in the silent auction for possession of the creatures were teachers Garren Hanon and Tony Garcia, who both wanted them for their wives’ classrooms.
The eventual victor was Garcia, with a winning bid of $100. Shelby Garcia’s kindergarteners will have a couple of new additions to their classroom when the tortoises are delivered after they’re done hibernating in February.
Some of the most exciting bidding was for a guided fly fishing trip for six people, donated by California Trout. Two bidders went back and forth, and the bidding increased to $950.
Before emcees John Harch and Tory Shannon could announce the trip as sold, Cal Trout’s Curtis Knight said he would guide two trips if both bidders wanted the prize. Both bidders agreed. So instead of $950, $1,900 will go to Mount Shasta schools thanks to Cal Trout’s donation.
Guests paid hundreds of dollars for decadent desserts, including a $140 cheesecake and a $200 plate of caramel cream puffs with warm chocolate sauce in live auctions.
Providing entertainment as guests arrived and settled in was the band Old School.
The Mount Shasta High School Jazz Choir performed and demonstrated some of the benefits derived from the Foundation. Director Greg Eastman said the evening’s performance was the first of the year for the group. They sang Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Nat King Cole’s “You’re Looking at Me,” and the modern composition “Gospel of John Hurt.”
Eastman said the choir has 19 microphones, all provided by the Education Foundation.
“MSEF is instrumental in outfitting most of my music department,” he said.
Wolmar told Gala-goers that two longtime Foundation board members, Freeman Waters and Lenny May, are soon stepping down. The organization is now searching for new blood.
To learn more about Mount Shasta Education Foundation and possibly becoming a board member, visit its Facebook page or the website: ourmsef.org.