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Chairs for Charity raises money for Hope Chest, Relay

RICK CRIDER / Enquirer Journal Cindy Summers, left, founder of Cindy's Hope Chest looks over the chair painted by her daughter, Savannah, an eighth-grade art student under the direction of Kirsten Napier, middle, and Nicole Crowley, right.

(Article reprinted with permission from the Enquirer Journal)

There are very few situations where you can see Batman, Justin Bieber, the Cat in the Hat and Alice from Alice in Wonderland in the same collection. 

However, these characters and many others were all available Friday at Porter Ridge Middle School as part of their fourth annual Chairs for Charity event.

The chairs were part of a silent auction to raise money for Cindy’s Hope Chest and Union County Relay for Life. They were created by eighth grade students in a year-long art class.

They began working on the chairs in December.

“They’re beautiful,” Art Teacher Nicole Crowley said. She added that she is “amazed” every year.

When the event started, Cindy’s Hope Chest was just beginning as a nonprofit organization and Founder Cindy Summers’ daughter was in their class. It started as a way to help her and has grown to become one of her biggest fundraisers, Crowley said.

“There’s a lot of people affected in this school by cancer,” Art Teacher Kirsten Durbin said. They lost a colleague to the illness this year, she said.

There had been a steady stream of people since 9 a.m. on Friday. By noon some of the chairs already had bids for $100.

“The bidding wars get pretty intense,” Durbin said.

Two students work on each chair and there is often a war between the parents.

Local businesses donate the chairs and desserts for a bake sale.

Eighth-grade-student Hannah Hagler, 14, worked with her partner on a chair with sock monkeys.

“We wanted to do a Curious George theme,” Hagler said. However, that was done last year, so they decided on sock monkeys.

A few people had already bid on her chair, which made her feel “pretty good, actually.”

Eighth-grader Anna Thompson, 13, created a chair with her partner based on Vera Bradley handbags. They called it “Rhythm and Blues.”

She said she enjoys making abstract art.

By afternoon, her chair had four bids.

“(I am) glad to know four people like the chair,” Thompson said.

Courtney Wilson, 13, and her partner created a cat chair that had created some buzz. She owns a cat and is a cat-lover, she said.

The bids on her chair made her feel “Happy, because I know it’s going to charity,” she said.

Making the chair was fun at first, but then got stressful as the date approached, she said.

Students got time at the end of each class to work on their chairs.

The students sketched their designs on paper, then on the chair. They had to start with the focal point, then work their way out, Hayley McNeill, 13, explained.

She and her partner created a “Las Vegas” chair. It was abstract, featuring many symbols people associate with the city.

The bids made her feel proud, she said.

“I had to stay after school every day,” McNeill said.

Students have to apply for the art class. Durbin and Crowley said that many students apply because they know they get to make a chair during the class.


Written by: Carolyn Steeves - Enquirer Journal Reporter
Posted: Feb 11, 2013 by Christine Courtney

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