By John Schaffner

Anne Cochran’s children are all grown now, and Garden Hills Elementary School is a part of their memories. One of Cochran’s own memories goes back 20 years, to a school that needed extra funding and the creation of a fundraising event that continues annually as an Evening in the Garden.

“That first year, we raised $8,000 and thought we had hit the jackpot,” Cochran recalled as she attended the 20th anniversary Evening in the Garden on April 25 at the home of Tom and Andrea Radtke in the Peachtree Park neighborhood of Buckhead.

The first year’s event was held at the swimming pool in the Garden Hills neighborhood and was attended by 50 people. But “one neighbor didn’t like the fact people were drinking wine there,” Cochran said, so it the event was moved to private homes.

This year’s Evening in the Garden drew 144 paying guests and raised $30,000 for the Garden Hills Elementary PTA budget. Those funds go to in-school and out-of-school enrichment programs, teacher grants, and grounds improvements, said Melissa Lawson, the co-president of the Garden Hills PTA.

The event was attended by a mixture of parents who have children at Garden Hills Elementary, teachers and administrators of the school, and neighbors who support the school because it is their neighborhood school and they or their children formerly went there. It was an eclectic and festive group.

Heather Martin and Margaret Smith, the co-chairs of this year’s Evening in the Garden committee, said most of the money annually is raised through the live auction and silent auction of donated items from local vendors. The items were displayed under a big tent in the Radtkes’ backyard on Peachtree Drive.

Those items were posted in the event brochure under a series of categories: Food & Wine, Boutique Shopping, Home & Garden, Out & About (entertainment, wine pairing parties, spa visits, etc.), At Your Service (pet sitting, pressure washing, etc.), For Children and Teacher Contributions, which included a variety of activities involving students with a teacher from the school.

Martin and Smith said the auction items involving teachers always inspire some of the hottest bidding.

The live auction included dinner with friends at Chops, a Mother’s Day package and two vacation opportunities.

The main food dishes for the evening, served under a second tent in the backyard, were donated and served by chef Michael Harnage of Sonora Catering and Toulouse restaurant and chef Marty Eberly of Portofino. Also donating food and wine for the event were Taverna Fiorentina, The Real Chow Baby, Sweetwater Brewing, ChocoLate Coffee, Truffles by Ali and Publix.