Editor's note: This corrects the amount Wal-mart is donating and the spelling of Thad Foret and Isabel's name, and adds in a link to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.
A plethora of Orange County business and political leaders and assorted VIPs turned out for Second Harvest Food Bank's annual No Lunch Lunch last week in Irvine.
But that's not really important.
What is important is that everyone gathered there was committed to Second Harvest's mission to feed the hungry in Orange County during Tuesday's gathering at the Great Park.
With banners reminding everyone that 15% of seniors may miss meals, and that one in four children may go hungry, attendees sat at tables adorned with beige linens, pumpkins and a bouquet of fall grasses.
The order of the day was to honor those who have given food, money or manpower to the food bank.
United Healthcare received the Corporate Volunteer Award, which was established this year to honor groups and companies who embrace the food bank's work. United Healthcare has volunteered more than 3,500 hours on 51 separate occasions since 2007, according to the event's program.
Wal-Mart has done everything from hosting food drives to donating food from its stores, including giving the food bank two refrigerated trucks to help expand their programs, Director Joe Schoeningh said as he presented the company with the Community Partnership Award. More than 81,000 pounds of food has come from their Orange County stores as part of the grocery rescue program, along with 100 hours of hands-on services. Nationally, the company and its foundation pledged a $2-billion cash and in-kind commitment as part of a five-year initiative called Fighting Hunger Together, according to the presentation and the event's program.
"We are helping people eat better and live better," said Kimberly Sentovich, the senior vice president of Wal-Mart's Irvine-based Pacific Division.
Ed Arnold presented the Ed Arnold Humanities Award to the Yorba Linda chapter of the National Charity League for going above and beyond to forward Second Harvest's mission. The nonprofit group has been involved since 2002. Its members have donated 700 hours to packing and sorting food, Arnold said. The class of 2011's Passion for Fashion raised $20,000 for Second Harvest, providing more than 60,000 meals.
Avril Wood, whose daughter is part of the class of 2011, accepted the award, explaining that when the girls were sophomores, they chose three charities. Thirty-five of them selected Second Harvest.
After commending Antonio Cagnolo and Thad Foret of Antonello Ristorante for providing lunch, which was a wonderful bean soup drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, Arnold explained he missed many meals growing up and he hates to see it happen now. He thanked everyone for doing anything they can and do.
Two partners were recognized for their efforts: the Dhont Family Foundation for providing 30,000 family boxes, which fed a family of four for a week, throughout Orange County last year; and Michelle Merage-Janavs, whose 10-year-old daughter, Isabel, is donating the proceeds from her book, "Izzy and the Candy Palace," to the food bank. Merage-Janavs told the audience Isabel was unable to attend the lunch because it was Free Dress and Movie Day at school.
"She didn't want to let Joe down," Merage-Janavs said. "I told it was OK to be a kid, that Mommy could handle this."
The final honor, the Archbishop Thomas A. Clavel Award, went to a speechless Bud Grandsaert, who serves on the food bank's board, and raised $115 at the annual Swing Against Hunger golf tournament.
About those well-known attendees, the master of ceremonies, Chairman Emeritus Tom A. Fuentes, called out their names so they could be recognized and thanked for their support. The list included Assemblyman-elect and Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor; Irvine City Councilman Steven Choi, who led the pledge of allegiance; Judge Bill Monroe; Orange County Deputy Treasurer Keith Rodenhuis; Capt. Emily Sanford, retired from the U.S. Navy; Sir Eldon Griffiths, a former House of Commons member; former Anaheim City Councilman Bob Zemel; Saddleback College President Tod Burnett; and Orange City Councilman Fred Whitaker.
Web Editor JAMIE ROWE can be reached at (714) 966-4634 or email@example.com. Squee would like to remind everyone to think about homeless animals this season. If you can't adopt, donate food, toys or blankets, money, or your time and love to your local shelter.
How To Help
To donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, mail your check to 8014 Marine Way, Irvine, CA 92618 or visit feedoc.org/HowToHelp.aspx.
There are multiple levels:
• $500 can provide two children with an afternoon snack for a year.
•$250 can provide eight seniors with groceries twice a month for a year.
•You can sponsor a child's weekend backpack for $30.
•You can volunteer your time or donate items.