These former PTA moms have gone big time. They used to bake cupcakes and help with field trips at Clark Elementary School in Issaquah. The women, along with...

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These former PTA moms have gone big time. They used to bake cupcakes and help with field trips at Clark Elementary School in Issaquah. The women, along with a few friends they’ve recruited outside PTA circles, call themselves the Rising Star Guild. They now raise money for the Eastside Domestic Violence Program — a cool $40,000-plus in the past five years.

“We learned how to volunteer when our kids were little,” said Karen Buckingham, of Sammamish. “Now that our kids are in college, we wanted to keep volunteering.”

They’ve even upgraded their fund-raisers. Last year it was a typical garage sale in a member’s home. Tomorrow it will be a Home Furnishings Sale in the Gibson Hall community center in Issaquah. The inventory includes antiques, entertainment centers, dining-room tables and chairs, sofas, artwork and bookcases. The women spent the past 10 months collecting items donated through four furniture-consignment stores.

“We have so many great things that we filled a storage unit and a couple garages,” Buckingham said.

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This will be the first time the group, led by co-Presidents Libby Hirshberg and Nancy Beleur of Issaquah, have tried this type of high-end benefit.

“We’ve held a bowl-athon, sold candles and are working on a cookbook,” Buckingham said. “But this is the biggest fund-raiser we’ve ever tried.”

The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Gibson Hall is in downtown Issaquah at 105 Newport Way S.W.

Wildlife report

Melissa Wunsch still laughs about her introduction to the Northwest critters known as slugs. Her husband, Jerry, is a tackle with the Seattle Seahawks. She had never seen slugs when they moved to Kirkland after Jerry signed with the football team.

Not long afterward, their real-estate agent, Terri Fletcher, received a phone call from a nervous Wunsch.

Wunsch insisted her young sons come inside the house after she discovered “leeches” lurking in the back yard where they had been playing. Fletcher dropped everything and drove to the Wunsch home. The leeches, of course, turned out to be slugs. The story has become a standing joke between Wunsch and Fletcher. The real-estate agent even gave Wunsch a book about slugs for Christmas.

Royal event

Vie Franz made Suzanne Hutchinson’s birthday party an affair to remember Tuesday. Hutchinson, of Medina, is the director of guilds and special events for the planned-but-not-yet-built Performing Arts Center of the Eastside.

Franz, a former model and modeling-agency director, held the luncheon at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Bellevue Square. Guests included John Hepler, director of Tiffany & Co., and longtime arts supporters Betty Freeman, Lin Salisbury and Dale Johnson, all of Bellevue.

“It was a fabulous birthday party,” said Hutchinson, a statuesque blonde. “I wore a beautiful tiara which they provided for me.”

Hutchinson, like all the women attending the event, subscribe to the French convention when it comes to revealing their birth year. They simply say they’re women of a certain age.

Final day

Margi Poyer has shed a few tears in the past month. Her Classy Oak Boutique in Redmond officially closes today.

“Ever since I announced the closure, customers have been coming in to give me hugs and say goodbye,” Poyer said. “We’ve done a lot of crying together.”

She will be staying home to care for her ailing parents.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or