Raising money with Pumpkins and Pancakes

Optimus Prime, Elmo, Rapunzel and even Darth Vader visited South Coast Plaza last weekend — all in the name of helping children.

The 21st annual Pumpkins and Pancakes event offered up the aforementioned breakfast staple from Plum's Cafe & Catering, along with fruit kebabs, pastries, quiches and various beverages to raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County (CASA), Orangewood Children's Foundation and Children's Hospital of Orange County Children's Foundation.

"We sold about 1,000 tickets this year," said event founder Anton Segerstrom, who was accompanied by his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, ages 10 and 11.

"We are getting more people coming each year," Jennifer said. "We have a good relationship with the charities."

The event raised $107,000, organizers said.

Volunteers ran many activities for children, such as Halloween-themed arts and crafts, games, face painting, manicures and temporary tattoos. They also visited sea animals provided by Dana Point's Ocean Institute, interacted with Discovery Science Center's (DSC) Indiana Jones street team and went trick-or-treating.

DSC, which participated for the first time, hopes to return next year, said spokesman Dan Nasitka.

Anton started the event to raise money for CASA, according to South Coast Plaza Marketing Manager Gail Ossipoff.

CASA has used the funds to train and supervise volunteers to serve as mentors and advocates for abused and neglected children living in the foster care system, said Community Relations Director Lynda Sloan.

The group serves more than 600 children.

Last year, Orangewood Children's Foundation and CHOC Children's Foundation joined as beneficiaries. Orangewood uses the money for college scholarships, transitional housing, an on-site resource center, mentors and independent living workshops for current and former foster youth, said Marketing Director Sara Bazant.

CHOC Children's Foundation uses the funds for the CHOC Kids Care Program, which funds care, services, education and research that CHOC provides to children in the community, said CHOC Development and Events Manager Patricia Randall.


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