The Crowd: Holiday Shopping Benefits League
B.W. Cook
November 19, 2008

The original article was published by
The Daily Pilot.

Close to 20,000 shoppers attended the Christmas Company last week at the Orange County Fair Grounds.

The four-day event running from Nov. 13 through Nov. 16 raised close to $200,000 for the Junior League of Orange County. Chaired by Sandra Thompson, the holiday-themed shopping extravaganza was billed as “A Holiday to Remember” and featured 120 vendors from Orange County and around the United States offering holiday gifts and merchandise.

The Christmas Company launched with a “Girls Night Out” followed by a Friday evening of food and wine attended by more than 300 local guests.

Gallo Family Vineyards was the major sponsor joining a host of fine area restaurants including Five Crowns, Blue Water Grill, Ovations, RA Sushi, Newport Rib Company and Pure Bliss. Funds raised will support Junior League programs and charitable endeavors.

This year the Junior Year is supporting the Kinship Project and Bridges to Higher Education, both associated with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation.

They are also in partnership with the Orange County Bar Foundation, sponsoring a higher education mentoring program, and Court Appointed Special Advocates, dealing with emancipated youth.

Finally, a project know as “Bear Hugs” specifically supported by the Junior League of Orange County assists emancipated teens within the community. For more information about the work of the Junior League, please call (949) 261-0823.

One of the most important dinners of the year for the Orange County Performing Arts Center unfolded recently honoring major donors who have made unrestricted gifts of $25,000 or more.

It’s called “The Fire Bird Dinner,” named after the elegant contemporary sculpture gracing the front of Segerstrom Hall that was commissioned by the late Renée Segerstrom and husband Henry Segerstrom.

This year’s dinner celebration took place at the new Samueli Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Presided over by Center President Terrence Dwyer and his staff, the crowd was greeted with rousing applause and each donor was presented with a special gift designed by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co.

Also front and center for the honors was the new center Chairman Tom McKernan.

As each of the honored contributors was introduced and dinner was served, honorees including the much-loved Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Richard and Mary Cramer, Fred and Jean Hamann, Eve Kornyei and Stan Hanson, Anne and Alan Simon, Roger Kirwan, and Jane and Jim Driscoll, to name only a few, made brief speeches sharing their personal connection to the arts and the center.

The highlight of the evening was a private performance by the incredible Stephen Schwartz, Broadway composer and Academy Award-winning songwriter who shared his talent with the intimate crowd.

The Pacific Club in Newport Beach was the setting for the kickoff reception for the 2009 “Culinary Masters” produced by the Roosters Foundation of Orange County.

For the past 31 years the Roosters Foundation has generously supported an array of charities helping children and families at risk in Orange County.

The “Culinary Masters” is one of the foundation’s most important fundraisers, planned for March 22, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Irvine. The concept is to bring together the top culinary talent in Orange County who create a multitude of five-course gourmet dinners paired with wines to entice and delight local donors to support the cause.

The upcoming Culinary Masters will feature 26 premier chefs including Michael Rossi from Ambrosia, Marcel St. Pierre from Club 33, Scott Raczek from Mr. Stox, Ron Plata from Roy’s, David Martin from The Pacific Club, and Lauren DeRauen from Pinot Provence, to name only a select few. Celebrity chef Jamie Gwen from Talk Radio 97.1 will serve as mistress of ceremonies.

The midweek reception at The Pacific Club brought together many of the celebrity chefs and Roosters at large to make plans and preparations for the big event in the spring.

Every year this men’s charitable organization raises in excess of $500,000 for a wide range of local needs in Orange County. In addition to the “Culinary Masters” event and the group’s well-known “Monte Carlo” evening, the Roosters sponsor an annual holiday food drive which helps to feed some 15,000 homeless and displaced children and families in Orange County during the holiday season.

In recent years they have also associated themselves with a charity called “The Snowball Express,” which assists children who have lost parents in the Iraqi War. For more information on “Culinary Masters” or the Roosters call (949) 706-7613.

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