Column: The Crowd: Big Canyon fundraiser helps Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County

Aimee Porter, Georgina Jacobson and Karen Taylor at the 2019 Angelitos de Oro luncheon in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
(Photo by Ann Chatillon)

Big Canyon Country Club welcomed 100 fashion-forward women who belong to a fundraising auxiliary benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire (BBBS) to an annual spring luncheon. The dedicated women are known as the Angelitos de Oro.

Since its founding in 1961, this powerful confederation has raised some $7 million in support of youth mentoring in Southern California. Indeed, the name of the group is appropriate. They are angels, and they know how to bring in the gold.

The 2019 gathering was co-chaired with style by Aimee Porter and Georgina Jacobson. Joining the duo was the lovely Karen Taylor, who presides over Angelitos as president. Taylor welcomed the Angelitos and their guests, sharing the news of the 2018 fundraising tally — $320,000 donated to BBBS.

Since it does take a village, Taylor, Porter and Jacobson were joined by some serious member-donors who made the enormous fundraising success a reality. Among the generous were Carole Pickup and daughter-in-law Natalie Pickup, Alex Miller, Teri Elliot, Gigi Spragins, Marilyn Wooten, Susie Finney, Kathy Harrison and Kris Peyton.


For the past several years, Angelitos’ focus has been to support the high school “Bigs” Program, where high school students are matched with elementary school “Littles” to provide one-on-one weekly peer support, friendship and encouragement. Several years ago, the “Angelitos Award” was born, and it is awarded to two exceptional young people who are dedicated and very worthy “Bigs.” This year Nancy Mendez and Alexis Bustillos were selected as the recipients. They are outstanding young people whose lives have been enriched and who in turn have enriched the lives of other young people because of the guidance of BBBS. Sloane Kean, chief executive of the largest BBBS agency in California, which is also the second largest in the country, recognized her incredible staff members, who assist with all programming for the more than 4000 children the agency serves annually.

Marilyn Wooten, Judy Montgomery, Carole Pickup and Natalie Pickup attend the fundraiser.
(Photo by Ann Chatillon)

Coming in the fall of 2019, Angelitos de Oro, in conjunction with South Coast Plaza, will once again present “Card Week.” The amazing shopping opportunity is produced in cooperation with many South Coast Plaza boutiques, restaurants and major department stores offering discounts to card holders doing a bit of pre-holiday shopping, while Angelitos raises major funds from the sale of its $60 “Angelitos Card.” This year Molly McCray and Cari Young will chair the massive adventure taking place Oct. 3 through 9 at the shopping center.

Wine, Women & Shoes

Olive Crest, standing tall for “strong families and safe kids,” held an unusual dinner fundraiser themed “Wine, Women & Shoes,” a shopping event that unfolded at The Hilton Waterfront Resort in Huntington Beach. A crowd of some 400 ladies stepped up to spend for Olive Crest. Husbands, boyfriends and 22 male shoe representatives witnessed the frenzy in the Hilton ballroom, raising over $170,000 for Olive Crest. Chaired by Carrie Brock with devoted assistance from committee chairs Gabriella Ayerst, Kristina Morales, Erica Sylvia, Anna Murphy-Dueling, Kelly Brown, Lori Feeney and Patty Ekstrom, the event featured actress Danica McKellar as mistress of ceremonies. She is well-known for her long-running role on TV’s “The Wonder Years” and more recently for recurring roles in movies made for The Hallmark Channel.


O.C. Olive Crest trustee and president Randy Rider welcomed the exuberant shoppers. An address from Olive Crest Executive Director Kerri Dunkelberger on the work of the organization transforming the lives of abused and neglected children and their families followed. Guest speaker Jeff Judy shared his personal journey with wife, Amy, and their adoption of four children, taking them out of the foster care system (after already having four of their own).

Spotted in the crowd were donors Brent and Jay Engstrom, Dawn Stark, Telma Di Badj, Suzanne Millhollen, Anna Harris and Rochelle Bennett.

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B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.