Gala raises more than $25,000 for Mt. Shasta schools

Skye Kinkade
The Community Building was packed Saturday evening, Nov. 4, 2017, as the Mount Shasta High School Jazz Choir, directed by Greg Eastman, performed during the Mount Shasta Education Foundation's Starlight Gala, which raises funds for Mount Shasta schools. By Skye Kinkade

The Mount Shasta Education Foundation raised more than $25,000 Saturday night, Nov. 4 at the organization’s flagship fundraiser, the Starlight Gala.

Seven thousand of that amount came from a record breaking bid for a dinner for 12 at the private estate of Shadow Valley Ranch, said MSEF president Beth Neumeyer. The bidding for the popular auction item was especially fierce, ending with chef Brett LaMott’s $7,000 bid for an anonymous buyer.

After a three year hiatus due to health issues, Leif Voeltz was back as emcee. He and co-emcee Dr. John Harch bantered and jovially drove prices up on delicious desserts and donated auction items, all to raise funds for Mount Shasta schools.

“It was a really successful night,” said MSEF president Beth Neumeyer. “It was super fun. I was in awe of everyone’s work and effort. For such a small town, it is amazing all the support we get. I love Mount Shasta.”

Silent and live auctions netted $24,768, said board member Kris Wolmar. That amount does not include ticket sales or wine and beer sales, he added.

The theme for the 21st annual event was “bow ties and tiaras,” and many of the guests took the theme to heart.

Wearing their sparkly best, the Mount Shasta Community Building was transformed into a glamorous setting fit for the gala, during which the Mount Shasta High School Jazz Choir performed under the direction of Greg Eastman.

Eastman said all the equipment used in the performance has come from MSEF donations, with the exception of two bass guitars. The choir sang three songs: the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and Johnny Mathis’s “Misty.”

Also providing musical entertainment as guests arrived were Bill and Liz Churchill.

As always, the live dessert auction raised big amounts. For example, a plate of Kahlua brownies, made and donated by Juliana Carlson, went for $400 to the hungry Scott Valley Bank table.

A special dinner for 12 at the private estate of Shadow Valley Ranch; four Disneyland/California Adventure passes; a $50 gift certificate to Lucille’s Tavolino every month for a year; and an introductory backcountry skiing/boarding trip from Shasta Mountain Guides were just a few of the live auction items guests could bid on.

Silent auction items, generously donated by the community, were displayed around the edge of the room for people to peruse and bid on at their leisure.

More than half a million dollars granted since 1994

MSEF was founded in 1994 and has since granted more than half a million dollars to Mount Shasta Elementary School, Sisson School, Mount Shasta High School, and Jefferson High School. Their donations are used to fund programs and provide supplies and instruction that otherwise might not be afforded.

According to the MSEF website, the original 10 MSEF board members first tried to raise money in a variety of creative ways – selling root beer floats on the Fourth of July, holding a country dance, raffling a hot-air balloon ride, and putting on a tennis tournament. But “the monies raised were minimal and the effort expended maximal,” the website states.

The board then decided to focus on one big fundraiser each year. On Dec. 13, 1996, the first Starlight Gala was held. The members of the board, along with several other volunteers, worked together to solicit donation items that could be auctioned. Almost all of the auction items and liquor were donated by local business people. The Mount Shasta Lion’s Club acted as bartenders, and the Community Building was offered at no cost by the Mount Shasta Masons. MSEF hired a local caterer to serve dinner, and the board members sold tickets, which entitled the holder to the silent auction, no-host bar, music, dinner and the live auction. The first Gala raised $4,000, which went toward the 1996-1997 MSEF goal of purchasing computer equipment and software at Mount Shasta Elementary, Sisson Elementary and Mount Shasta High School,according to the website.

If you would like to learn more about MSEF, visit their website: