Fruitvale School expands annual fundraiser

Historic schoolhouse at risk for closure
By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Just in case a celebrity chef dessert auction isn’t enough to draw crowds to its annual fundraiser, the Old Fruitvale School and Community Hall is sweetening the deal. At Sunday’s tri-tip barbecue and dessert auction, the local nonprofit will feature its first silent auction, a used book sale, and the release of its recently published cookbook, a collection of recipes from Lincoln’s past. This year’s fundraiser is more critical than ever for the historic schoolhouse, said Fruitvale Association director Lyndell Grey. “We’ve just gotten whacked between our annual insurance bill and the economy,” Grey said. “I know (the economy) is shutting doors and, unless we become better at fundraising, we definitely run that risk.” Several years ago, the school was dropped by its former insurance provider and forced to find a new policy at a much higher rate, Grey said. When the nonprofit received its first insurance bill last year, it came up $1,000 short. An anonymous donor “miraculously” provided enough to cover the bill, Grey said, but she’s worried about how to cope next year. “It’s going to be hard – no doubt about it,” she said. In 2007, Fruitvale School added the celebrity chef dessert auction to its annual barbecue, to smashing success. The auction – which contributed half the evening’s dollars, bringing in a record $3,000 – is back this year with chefs such as Placer County supervisors Jim Holmes and Robert Weygandt, Lincoln council members Kent Nakata and Tom Cosgrove, and Lincoln Chamber president Bobbi Park. Grey hopes this year’s silent auction and cookbook will increase opportunities for cash-strapped supporters to contribute. “These are items that will be useful in the home,” Grey said. “It’s more practical, while the dessert auction is just pure fun.” Inspiration for the “Old Fruitvale School Cookbook – Our Local Families’ Favorite Recipes” stemmed from regular potlucks held at the schoolhouse, said board member Janet Moranda, who compiled the book. “I wanted to capture recipes that included some history,” Moranda said. Many submissions came courtesy of Fruitvale School alumni, some in their 80s and 90s, and include tidbits about family history, she said. The book also features pie recipes from the Fowler family, egg dishes from organic Mulberry Lane Farm, and recipes from Lincoln Oaks Bed and Breakfast, which Moranda owns. A “Kids in the Kitchen” section includes a recipe for the biscuits children make during living history, as well as kitchen-themed crafts, she said. If two-thirds of the books sell by October, the publication will qualify for a national cookbook competition with a $5,000 grand prize, Moranda said. Cookbooks are $15. For each book sold, $9 will be added to the insurance fund. Autographed versions will be available at Sunday’s fundraiser. In spite of new challenges, there might be a silver lining to Fruitvale School’s dire financial situation, Grey said. Since the insurance increased, volunteers have been coming out in droves to help. “I know they don’t want to see Fruitvale School die,” she said. “We contribute so many things to the community that no one else does, not to mention the beautiful little schoolhouse. To lose it would be heartbreaking.” Built in the 1880s, Old Fruitvale School and Community Hall is the only remaining one-room schoolhouse in Western Placer County with an active living history program. In addition to an after-school program and an annual melodrama, the school is used for community club meetings and event rentals. Doors for the fundraiser open at 4 p.m.; food is served at 5 p.m. To purchase tickets, call 554-7012. Adult tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door; children 10 and younger are $7. Tickets are also available at the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce. Old Fruitvale School and Community Hall is located at 3425 Fruitvale Road, off Fowler Road.