After three years of waiting, Porter Ridge Middle School art teacher Kirsten Durbin and her students were sure they could bring back the Chairs for Charity event for in-person viewing and bidding.

They dived into action and made the 11th annual event possible for the families of eight-grade honors students this past Friday, (May 6). They spent months painting and designing donated chairs to raise more proceeds. The chairs are part of a silent auction to raise money for Cindy’s Hope Chest and Union County Relay for Life.

Durbin decided not to host the event in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, chairs painted in those years were featured in the 2022 event.

This year’s chairs featured several animal and nature themes, cartoon characters and professional sports teams.

Durbin was pleased with the turnout for the bidding and the hard work from her students.

“I am extremely proud of all these students whether they are sophomores in high school or eighth-graders,” Durbin said. “They all have done tremendous work. They worked so hard, they are so talented, and I love how they are using their talent to help others.”

Former PRMS student Hannah Hagler joined in the fun as one of the new art teachers. In 2013, she participated in the event and created a chair with sock monkeys with Brianna Wheelock, according to an archived story from The Enquirer-Journal.

When asked if she had nostalgic memories, she had “round circles” come back to her as she referred to the students she is now teaching; including Brianna’s brother, Jacob.

“It’s so fun to be on the teaching side of things with (Chairs for Charity),” Hagler said. “It was fun to do it, and now I’m instructing everyone else how to do it themselves. It’s the same, but it’s so different too.”

When Cindy Summers, founder of Cindy Hope’s Chest, walked into the pit with her daughter Madison, hundreds of memories flooded them as they watched the bidding take place.

“I really missed it the last (three) years,” Cindy said. “When I walked in the door, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to see the finished masterpieces. … My three daughters: Alexa, Savannah, and Madison participated in their eighth-grade year, which makes it even more special for me.”

Chairs for Charity got a big boost this year with a sponsorship from The Union County Community Arts Council, according to Durbin. When she applied for a grant, she was excited when she earned the grant for her event. The council gave her grants for paint, brushes, and other supplies.

Durbin said it is “a nice addition to the auction, to include local community and artists to the event.” She also believes the council will continue to sponsor every year going forward.

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