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Houston County Courier - Local News

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PWFAA winter gala benefits East Texas arts in education


By Alton Porter

Area arts in education projects will greatly benefit from a fundraising Winter Gala hosted by Piney Woods Fine Arts Association (PWFAA) Saturday, Jan. 20. Activities during the cocktail attire event, held at Park Hill Farm— Rings True Events, netted almost $25, 000 for arts in education for East Texas, according to PWFAA Executive Director Glenn Barnhart. The gala's fund-raising activities consisted of a live auction, during which a Tennessee Waltz Pattern Quilt, hand quilted by Ken Moore, drew the evening's highest bid of $1,700. The quilt, named "Waltzing Through Texas" was donated by Moore and Doug Buchman. The live auction raised $14,350 for arts in education. Other activities included a dessert auction, during which State Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Dist. 57) submitted the highest bid of $750 for a dessert item. This auction raised a total of $3,285 for the cause. Other activities were a silent auction which raised $3.690, during which a wide assortment of goods were purchased by the highest bidders, and a raffle featuring a variety of items that were won by charitable attendees at the event, which raised $2,494. All items for the three auctions and raffle were donated by local and distant community residents who are PWFAA supporters. Funds raised from a onecarat diamond earrings raffledrawing activity, which raised $2,250, and gala admission ticket sales also went to the event's fund for arts in education. Olivia Santone, who grew up in the PWFAA arts in education program, was a PWFAA Chris Harris Memorial Scholarship winner and is currently a senior theater major at Stephen F. Austin State University, presented brief guest remarks at the gala. She will graduate in December and represented past and present PWFAA arts in education program participants at the event. "I'm proud to be a product of the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association," said Santone. "PWFAA means so much— not only for me, but for all of us." Santone said she participated the PWFAA programs for 16 years, starting when she was a little girl, excited to have the opportunity to be take part in the activities. "Eight of those 16 years were spent in little children's theater, courtesy of Piney Woods Fine Arts, until that little girl had outgrown all of her costumes. She said the Harris scholarship she received from PWFAA helped her embark on her semester in college. "It's that little girl who stands before you today, a senior in college pursuing a BA (bachelor of arts) degree in theater at Stephen F. Austin State University'" Santone said. "Last summer, I had the burning desire to give back to communities just like Crockett. Thus, I embarked on what was both the most nerve-racking and thrilling experience of my entire life. And that was … (a) tour of the little children's theater. During that tour, I was able give and inspire other kids just like the Piney Woods Fine Arts side of me. "You guys have sparked a lot of interest in me for theater, to entertain and be entertained. So, thank you so, so much." Barnhart said, "We are ecstatic (over the turnout for and outcome of the gala). We raised close to $25,000. With the money we raised, we can continue to provide arts in education programs for the school children of Houston County. "The fundraiser was very successful. We think everybody (who attended the gala) had a wonderful time. A wonderful time was had by all. PWFAA was founded in 1991 and puts on a fundraising event each year. Musical entertainment for this year's gala was provided by Stephen F. Austin University's Strings Camp participants.


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