Strawberry guitar auction helps fund school's constructionA strawberry-themed guitar helped a Florida farmworker family support organization generate money to build a new school.

The Immokalee, Fla.-based Redlands Christian Migrant Association auctioned a custom-carved strawberry guitar autographed and played by country act Lady Antebellum. The auction, which ended May 15, generated $2,125 for RCMA’s cause to construct new classrooms in a school being built in Wimauma, Fla., to serve grade school and middle school students.

Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wishnatzki Farms, Plant City, Fla., developed the idea for the auction and donated the guitar made by Musical Harvest, a Salinas, Calif., custom guitar manufacturer.

Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner with Salinas-based Colorful Harvest LLC, owns Musical Harvest.

When Lady Antebellum performed at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, group members autographed Wishnatzki’s strawberry guitar and guitarist Dave Haywood played it during the group’s March 13 performance.

“We’re disappointed,” Wishnatzki said. “I thought it was worth more than $3,000. But the market has spoken.”

The new classrooms will help RCMA expand education to middle school students in the 200-student school that now ends at fifth grade. RCMA wants to raise $2.5 million to build a classroom wing and other facilities to accommodate grades 6-8. So far, more than $1 million has been raised, RCMA officials say.

RCMA calls Wishnatzki, an RCMA board member, the organization’s leading benefactor, saying he has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money for farmworkers’ children.