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Joining me at Childhelp's 28th Annual "For the Love of a Child" Fashion Show & Luncheon are national board member Patti Edwards and the nonprofit's Children's Friend Award Bruno Serato

Joining me at Childhelp’s 28th Annual “For the Love of a Child” Fashion Show & Luncheon were longtime Childhelp member and national board member Patti Edwards and the nonprofit’s Children’s Friend Award recipient Bruno Serato

A Childhelp benefit is always a heartwarming affair, and this year’s 28th Annual “For the Love of a Child” Fashion Show & Luncheon was no exception. Longtime supporter Patti Edwards, who has served on Childhelp’s national board for years, spoke from the heart about the charity that had its beginnings in 1959 when two Hollywood actresses – Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara – happened upon 11 homeless orphans on the streets of Tokyo. Today, Childhelp is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to meeting the needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children and focuses on prevention, intervention and treatment.

Edwards told the sold-out, 400-guest fundraiser at the Newport Beach Marriott Resort that Childhelp’s hotline takes 300,000 calls annually, that 3 million children are abused each year, a child is abused every 10 seconds, and five children die each day from abuse. The statistics were riveting. Tearfully, Edwards thanked everyone for their support, saying, “You are the reason they have hope.” In a magnanimous gesture, Julia Argyros, pledged $50,000 from the Argyros Family Foundation, helping boost the net proceeds for the event to $275,000.

The benefit commenced with a festive reception, which included a tempting silent auction and the modeling of Roberto Cavalli fashions and David Yurman jewelry, before guests gathered in one of the ballroom’s for the South Coast Plaza-sponsored fashion show. The renowned retail center’s Director of Community Relations, Kathryn Cenci, coordinated another fast-paced, visually attractive and colorful fashion presentation, which included fashions by Bally, CH Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, DKNY, Faconnable, M. Missoni, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. John, and Ted Baker London. Black and white and prints of all designs were prevalent with splashes of color the norm. A few of my favorites were M. Missoni’s one-shouldered chartreuse shift and DKNY’s black and white logo-inspired hooded coat.

Event chairs Pam Pharris and Michelle Langston and President Kristen James all took turns at the microphone thanking committee members, sponsors and volunteers. James singled out South Coast Plaza and presented Cenci with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for her efforts and especially thanked Robert and Beverly Cohen for hosting Childhelp’s underwriting party in their beautiful home. Childhelp board members Mary Allyn Dexter and Dale San Filippo presented the chapter’s Children’s Friend Award to Bruno Serato for his work with feeding children on the streets and in motels, who otherwise would not have any food. Serato, owner of the White House Restaurant in Anaheim, started Caterina’s Club in 2005. Named for his mother, who inspired him to feed the children, the nonprofit provides 800 pasta dinners seven days a week throughout Orange County, including to Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and the Illumination Foundation. Recently Serato began placing some of the families into homes of their own and to date, 54 families have moved from motels into safer homes. In accepting the award, Serato said, “I love Childhelp. You help children.” Indeed, it looks like Childhelp has a partner in Serato and his mission.

The Opportunity Chance prizes, always a big draw at the event, featured many South Coast Plaza offerings, including the Grand Prize, a $2,000 South Coast Plaza shopping spree and VIP parking pass. Laura Russell was all-smiles as she raised her hand signifying she won.

Fashion Show photos, courtesy of Donato Sardella

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