The Transylvania Times -

Summit Charter School Foundation Hosts Fundraiser


Last updated 8/11/2021 at 12:56pm

On Thursday, July 29, supporters of the Summit Charter School Foundation attended a sold out “Toast of the Trees” dinner at The Orchard Restaurant’s Harvest Barn.

The event was sponsored by Moët & Chandon champagne and was a kick-off event for top level benefactors and corporate sponsors of the foundation’s new fundraiser, the Cashiers Festival of Trees, which is scheduled for Nov. 26-27. Cashiers residents Sarah Palisi Chapin and Sarah Jennings represent the inaugural co-chairs.

The Summit Charter School Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that raises money to support Summit Charter School, a now K-12 public charter school in Cashiers. Summit serves 253 students and 45 teachers, representing four counties, including Transylvania, in rural Western North Carolina.

Summit, which was founded 25 years ago on the Village Green campus and now resides off Mitten Lane, engages students in learning experiences that stimulate discovery, inspire excellence and nurture a positive influence in an ever-changing world. The school’s primary goals are to graduate students who are academically prepared, engaged in the community, healthy and strong in character.

As a tuition-free public charter school, Summit receives significantly less public funding than a traditional public school and zero funding for capital improvements.

“To sustain the qualities of a Summit education and to ensure our children thrive, the foundation must raise private funding on an annual basis to close the school’s funding gap,” said Melissa Hudson, development director. “We are excited about our new Festival of Trees fundraiser, and the Toast of the Trees event was a sneak-peek of the festive fun to come Thanksgiving weekend.”

Cashiers Festival of Trees will be a multi-day, family-friendly event, where guests tour and bid on decorated trees and holiday décor, enjoy a wide variety of holiday performances, create personalized children’s crafts, celebrate literacy on a Dolly Parton Imagination Library Storytime Stage, shop one-of-a-kind gifts in the Gift Zone, and enjoy a pop up Build-A-Bear workshop. The event will take place in the Summit Center, the school’s athletics and fine arts facility.

Giving Back

While raising funds for the school is the primary focus of the event, the Summit Foundation has decided to spread the holiday spirit of giving.

“When a nonprofit decorates a tree, 20 percent of the item’s sale will go back to the participating non-profit, creating a collaborative initiative to benefit our fellow charities and their worthy causes. Supporting our entire community is very important to our cause and the school’s overall mission,” explains co-chairs Chapin and Jennings, in a joint statement.

Non-profits, businesses, churches, and individuals are encouraged to get involved. The deadline to submit a participant form is Aug. 15. Some of the organizations already signed up include the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic, McKee Properties, Four Seasons Hospice, The Bascom, the Boys & Girls Club of the Plateau, and Cashiers Farmers Market. For those interested in decorating a tree, but are not sure how to get started with a design, the foundation provides a list of themes, as well as local designers to assist.

The festival has been organized in concert with the community’s other holiday events, in a dedicated effort to drive cross traffic and community collaboration.

“Festival events will open with special breakfasts and will close in time for the Village Green’s Tree Lighting. We are also looking forward to offering a student-led gift wrapping station in town to help the community,” said Chapin.

Moët & Chandon Toast of the Trees

At July’s Toast of the Trees, guests enjoyed a champagne reception followed by a multi-course meal prepared by The Orchard’s Travis Boswell and paired with wines from Newton Vineyard and Cloudy Bay. The night ended with a thrilling live auction of a product adorned tree, designed by Sandy Linebaugh of Fiddlehead Designs.

The tree was so popular with the attendees that it sold twice, with proceeds of $16,000 supporting Summit’s growing high school program. Carol and Rob Hunter, the foundation’s treasurer and his wife, served as hosts of the evening.

Additional sponsors of the night’s events included Design South Builders, McKee Properties, The Spinx Company, Crawford Construction, Cashiers Farmers Market, Sarah Lane’s Cookies, The Moskowitz Law Firm, Jersey Mikes, Cashiers Firewood, The Club at High Hampton, and Caroline’s Cakes

To learn more about the Cashiers Festival of Trees, visit http://www.summitschool. org/festival-of-trees.


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