MBEF raises glasses and money
by Andrea Ruse
More than 1,400 people gathered at the Manhattan Beach Country Club Saturday to eat, drink, and merrily raise hundreds of thousand of dollars for Manhattan schools during the 16th Annual Manhattan Beach Education Foundation Wine Auction.
Over 80 wineries from all over California, as well as local wine and food vendors, offered bottomless tastings to bubbly auction attendees, every last one of whom was fashionably decked out in style for the posh event.
“We were absolutely, very happy with the turnout,” said MBEF executive director Susan Warshaw. “We sold out again this year. There were new and old people. I met people who have come to the event every year for 16 years.”
MBEF officials will not know until next week how much was raised at this year’s auction.
Live and silent auctions featured lots of collectible wines; trips to New York, Argentina and Spain; the opportunity to be the Lakers’ “honorary ball person” next season; and tickets to movie premieres, such as Angelina Jolie’s “Salt,” and television performances, including the “American Idol” finale show.
Money from the three top-selling auction items, as well as the event’s Chevron Challenge tradition, made up nearly 18 percent of the foundation’s $600,000 goal, based on the amount raised last year.
The top-bid was $26,000 for a trip to Auckland and Queensland, New Zealand. Next was a collection of 11 Harlan Estate wines, which sold for $12,750. After that, a trip to Madrid and Barcelona, Spain sold for $12,650. The Chevron Challenge – where Chevron matches up to $35,000 in donations made by attendees specifically toward the challenge – brought in an additional $55,000.
Among attendees were 53rd District State Assembly candidate Betsy Butler, who last week won the Democratic primary election, despite a half million dollar corporate smear campaign targeted against her. Butler will run in the general election in November against Republican candidate Nathan Mintz and third-party candidates.
The auction was also attended by soon-to-be Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Matthews. Matthews will begin with the district July 1.
“This was the last time he got to go around incognito,” Warshaw said.
City council members Portia Cohen, Richard Montgomery and Wayne Powell also attended. The John Brown Band provided musical entertainment throughout the evening.
In addition to the wine auction fundraiser, MBEF makes an annual appeal to parents, which raised $4.1 million earlier this year. Donations from individual elementary school fundraisers, such as the Grand View Elementary School 5K Gator Run, also contribute toward annual contributions.
Two thirds of MBEF’s net proceeds go directly toward public school programs, according to Warshaw. The remaining third goes into an MBEF endowment fund, the interest of which will be used to help directly fund school programs when the fund balance – currently at $5 million — reaches $10 million, Warshaw said.
“It’s nice to see new parents, older parents and our local vendors coming together to celebrate schools,” Warshaw said. “The weather cooperated and there was lots of energy and fun.” ER