KING CITY — S.T.A.R. Foundation of Monterey County presented Sol Treasures with $500,000 last Saturday during the Sol Treasures Annual Fundraiser Gala.
The night included musical entertainment, silent and live auctions and a dinner for donors, but the large donation was a surprise event held at the end of the evening.
Reg Huston, S.T.A.R.’s founder and executive director, explained the foundation has existed for 13 years, but that it is time to close the doors as its leadership retires.
“In those years we were able to give away, counting tonight, $2 million to local schools, theaters, and for scholarships for students,” Huston said. “Now that we are retiring, we are taking the money that we have and we are giving it to the group that personifies what we do to support you in the arts.”
He added that the grants awarded by S.T.A.R. are about $5,000, including the several awarded to Sol Treasures in the past, which have previously totaled $60,000.
Huston, along with Sol Treasures Executive Director Jeff Hinderscheid and Board Member Jamie Jones, drew out the process of writing the donation amount with marker on an oversized check before the gathered audience of 200 inside the Pavilion Building at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City.
“We’d like to give you $500,000,” Huston said, as the crowd erupted into a roar of applause and standing ovation.
Huston pointed out how impressed S.T.A.R. has been when they have come south to watch Sol Treasures’ performances.
“Your community is so great, your shows are so wonderful,” he said.
Hinderscheid noted the importance of arts in helping children.
“What we know about the arts is that it is a thing that helps children and helps create fine motor skills and helps them express themselves,” he said.
Hinderscheid noted the South Monterey County area is underserved, but is able to carry out its efforts toward arts education and outreach through the contributions from donors, which is the reason for the annual gala events.
“We get to go out and build a children’s musical theater program and build things like our strings program,” Hinderscheid said. “The reach of Salinas and the peninsula cannot get down here, so we have to do it ourselves, and because of you we get to do it.”
Helping through the night were partner organizations, with Hinderscheid noting the King City Young Farmers as the cooks, Knights of Columbus assisting at the bar, King City High School Interact Club bussing tables and Bloom Coffee serving coffee.
The Sept. 10 dinner was followed up by live musical performances of songs from movies with soundtracks that have won Oscars. This year’s theme followed upon prior galas, which had decade themes or even murder mystery performances.
On stage this year were Hinderscheid and Jones, as well as Jenny Ampat and Kyle Richlin, performing such pieces as “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon,” “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story” and “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun.”
“When King City does a live auction, the generosity of the people here is unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” Hinderscheid said. “People spend $1,000 on a tray of brownies. We raise anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000.”
Hinderscheid said planned uses for donations include upgrades to the Sol Treasures facility at 519 Broadway St. He explained the group is already speaking to architects and working with the city to see how the property can further enhance arts services.
“Over the course of the next three to five years, I think you can count on seeing some funds go toward a capital campaign for some facility upgrades,” he said.
In regard to the large amount of money donated on stage, Hinderscheid said, “It meets my fundraising goals for the next five years.”