The Crowd: Giving back in the season of giving

I suppose it is downright anti-American to voice protest concerning Black Friday. OK, I get it; I am working for a publication that exists based on ad revenue. Further, I fully understand that the American retail economy is uber-dependent on fourth quarter holiday sales.

That being said, I mourn the loss of civility in holiday shopping. I don't understand how people can afford to take a week off and camp out to save a few dollars on more electronic gadgets. I hope dear reader, that you are home on this Black Friday, reading the Daily Pilot, sitting in your favorite chair perhaps having a bit of breakfast and planning to do your holiday shopping without losing your sanity.

Oh, and by the way, I sincerely hope that you had a warm, spiritual Thanksgiving "love fest" with family and friends. And that goes for any reader who had to be at the cash register before they could finish the last bite of pumpkin pie or any person working in the culinary industry that had to serve folks like me who went out for Thanksgiving dinner.


Football stars come out for KidWorks

It's been a busy week on the Orange Coast.

A very special Nov. 15 luncheon attracted business, political and social community leaders raising an astonishing $550,000 to support a program known as KidWorks in central Santa Ana. A mid week event at the Doubletree Hotel, Santa Ana filled the ballroom with some 500 guests who came together to enjoy a program created around the Southern California football rivalry between USC and UCLA. KidWorks event organizers invited legendary Hall of Fame Coach John Robinson from USC and fellow Hall of Fame Coach Terry Donahue from UCLA to front a sports panel that also included former USC standouts Paul McDonald and Brandon Hancock and UCLA Bruins Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook. The entire event was dedicated to the memory of Terry Donahue's brother, Dan Donahue, a leading Southern California real estate developer. The Donahue family including another brother Pat Donahue, who served as emcee for the event, his wife, Paula, and their mother, Betty Donahue, and Terry Donahue's wife, Andrea, were all front and center lending their support to KidWorks. One of the organization's facilities is named for Dan Donahue as the family raised $1 million to build the educational learning center.

The mission of KidWorks is simple and straightforward. President and Chief Executive Ava Steaffens is an attorney who has dedicated her adult life to the concept that poverty, lack of opportunity and the resulting violence that exists as a result of desperate living conditions can be overcome one child at a time through educational opportunity. To this end, KidWorks, which Larry and Jayme Acosta founded in 1993 in a small apartment, now assists hundreds of students each year with programs for preschoolers that begin at 4 years of age all the way into young adulthood, helping youth in their 20s. Steaffens and her staff, which consists of paid teachers and administrators, along with some 400 volunteers, are extremely proud of the fact that every KidWorks student is potentially college bound.

The success stories are inspiring. At the luncheon Steaffens introduced KidWorks student Yabilez Villanueva, also an accomplished Mater Dei student with a 4.3 grade point average, and a goal of attending Harvard University. Mater Dei partners with KidWorks offering scholarship to deserving youth who also receive the support of KidWorks after school enrichment programs.

Supporting the KidWorks luncheon were Newport Mesa citizens including Jill and Tom Schriber, Elizabeth and Michael Schreiber, Steve Craig, Bobby Grich, Ron Salisbury, Gordon Henry, and Rick and Lucy Rawlins. To learn more about the work of KidWorks, visit


Mi Casa Cares Supporting U.S. Troops

This Thanksgiving weekend, Costa Mesa's favorite Mexican restaurant Mi Casa will sponsor the fifth annual Mi Casa Cares drive to support U.S. troops abroad and veterans at home. The festivities will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Mi Casa's 17th Street eatery.

Organizers request that community volunteers come to the restaurant and donate toiletries (no liquids), baby wipes, personal care items, shelf stackable snacks, reading materials, CDs, DVDs, AA batteries and new warm clothing. Free appetizers will be served in the Mi Casa bar and all donations will go to Operation Gratitude and the Wounded Warrior Project. To learn more, call Mi Casa at (949) 645-7626 or 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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