Old Fruitvale School fundraiser a big success

By: Karla McAnally Special to The News Messenger
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The hard work of more than 50 volunteers paid off in a big way with almost 200 people enjoying a summer evening of food and fun under a canopy of heritage oak trees at the Old Fruitvale School & Community Hall in rural Lincoln on June 8. The annual BBQ & Celebrity Baker Dessert Auction was a complete success, “far exceeding our expectations,” said long-time volunteer Mary Dillingham. The event raised more than $8,000 that will be used to help pay for insurance, utilities and maintenance on the 120-year-old schoolhouse. Highlighting the evening’s festivities was a fierce bidding war for a pair of pies baked by local celebrity Kim Strong of Kim’s Country Kitchen in downtown Lincoln. Professional auctioneer Don DeRobertis brought out the competitive side of bidders John Wilson, retired Placer County Agricultural Commissioner, and Vance Lancaster of LB Construction. As the bidding intensified, the crowd hushed but then broke into a roaring cheer when the gavel came down with Lancaster’s record-breaking bid of $1,500. Several other celebrity-baked pies, Placer County strawberry jams made by children in the after-school program, and three autographed copies of the newly published Old Fruitvale School Cookbook were also auctioned off for premium prices. Proceeds from a used-book sale and a silent auction helped add to the profitability of the night. “Recession, what recession?” attendee Harriot Fritts said. In addition to the planned fundraising activities, a few unexpected cash donations were received. “We were pleasantly surprised and very grateful when members of the Sun City Lincoln Hills Garden Club presented us with a $500 check,” said current Fruitvale Community Hall Board President Karla McAnally. The garden group is a new supporter of Fruitvale Community Hall, but has already donated several volunteer hours raking, weeding and planting bulbs. In the late 1880s, on land donated by the Fowler family, Fruitvale School was built by and for a community of farm families. In 1971, the Fruitvale Community Hall Corporation was formed to purchase the aging building and property so it could continue to serve as a gathering place for the community. Beginning in 2001, both the group and the building began a process of revitalization that continues today. Because the present board is comprised of only five volunteer directors, McAnally said, “We rely solely on the help and generosity of many volunteers, donors, local businesses, docents, service groups and other supporters. There is no way this historic country schoolhouse could exist without a strong commitment from long-time and new patrons.” With a mission of promoting the historical connection between education, agriculture and community, the group sponsors the Placer County/Bulgaria Farmer-to-Farmer exchange program, a third-grade living history program directed by Dr. Lyndell Grey, the Fruitvale Scholarship for graduating Lincoln High School seniors and a summer outdoors Melodrama. The site has been a venue on the Placer County Farm & Barn tour and is currently being rented by service groups and an after-school program. A community potluck dinner is held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month and is open to everyone, regardless of address. Additionally, the schoolhouse/hall is available to rent for family celebrations. For more information, call 554-7012 or go online at www.old