The Crowd: Annual fundraiser event benefits Childhelp

Nearly 500 men and women who truly care about the welfare of children who have suffered many forms of abuse joined together Nov. 14 for the annual Childhelp Holiday Boutique and Luncheon fundraiser.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel, Irvine, was the setting for the massive turnout at the full-day event chaired by Gina Van Ocker and Joy Whitlock-Estrada. A record $130,000 net was raised for the Childhelp programs, including services at The Merv Griffin Village in Beaumont, a residential facility supported in part by the Orange County chapter of Childhelp.

Van Ocker and Whitlock-Estrada were supported by a committee including Rhonda Gibb, Nancy Cardin, Christine Foster, Mary Allyn Dexter, Gwen Forquer, Lyn Barr, Rhonda Gibb, Kristen James and Jennifer Kite. Also providing support were Katherine Meredith, Diana Miner, Katy O'Malley, Pam Pharris (chapter president), Dale San Filippo, Joyce Simon, Nancy Whitlock, Susan Whitlock and Shan Womack.

Major donors included Jacquie and Michael Casey, Kathy and John Slavik and Patti and Jim Edwards. Also recognized for their generosity were the owners and stylists of Images Salon in Corona del Mar. The salon donated $16,100 from a recent "cut-a-thon" fundraiser.

Through its more than a decade-long association with Childhelp, Images has raised more than $120,000 from similar events, one haircut and one client at a time. That remarkable long-term dedication has made a difference for kids growing up under tough circumstances.

Shan Womack, Childhelp publicity chair shared that the O.C. chapter, through a year-long effort in 2011 with many events large and small, raised an impressive $700,000 for Childhelp. Organizers hope to exceed that total in 2011. Womack added that 90.7% of funds raised goes directly to treatment of children in Childhelp's care.

Now more than 50 years young, Childhelp, founded by Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O'Meara, operates programs on a national level and serves a need that unfortunately continues to grow. Local citizens dedicated to the cause and supporting the holiday event include Christine Bren, Darby Manclark, Penny Rosso, Paul and Patty McDonald, Kathy Long, Rich and Eileen Saul, Lauri and Jake Easton, Maureen Ramer and Mary Anna Jeppe.

For more information on the work of Childhelp, please visit

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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