The Crowd: 280 visitors absorb vogue show-luncheon in help of Childhelp

Champagne flutes clicked, creating a special kind of music as some 280 donors converged at Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach for a recent midweek luncheon and fashion show to raise funds for the programs of Childhelp, which serves abused and neglected children. The 36th annual “For the Love of a Child” gathering raised an impressive $475,000.

Co-chaired by long-standing Childhelp devotees Patti Edwards, Patricia Ford and Gina Van Ocker, the event guest of honor, actress Cheryl Ladd (“Charlie’s Angels”) was introduced to the crowd. Ladd accepted the Children’s Friend Award from the co-chairs for her some 40 years of “ongoing generosity and support for Childhelp.”

The actress brought the resort’s ballroom to silence as she recounted her early connection to the cause through contact with children desperately in need of help in the care of the organization. Ladd is among many passionate donors from the Hollywood family, including standouts such as the late Merv Griffin and Efram Zimbalist Jr.

Patti Edwards, from left, Gina Van Ocker, Cheryl Ladd and Patricia Ford at the spring fashion luncheon for Childhelp.

(John Watkins)

The Hollywood connection comes from the Childhelp’s founders’ early careers. Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, former wife of legendary television producer Don Fedderson, were young performers who sang and danced in foreign road shows for US troops during the Korean War. On tour abroad the pair of very young actresses discovered the horrific presence of abandoned children, many fathered by US GI’s and Korean women then left to fend for themselves. Childhelp was born.

Some 60 years forward, the work continues today to save children mired in abuse and neglect. The shame of the legacy is simply that there is more need than ever. O’Meara and Fedderson, now in their 80s, are still front and center for the cause.

Childhelp Founder Sara O'Meara, Christina Ruiz and founder Yvonne Fedderson.

Childhelp Founder Sara O’Meara, Christina Ruiz and founder Yvonne Fedderson.

(John Watkins)

Their passion is shared by local OC givers Jacquie and Michael Casey, Patti and Jim Edwards, and the Madeline and Marvin Gussman Family Foundation. Also, among the generous are the Crean Foundation, Terry and George Schreyer, Kathy and John Slavik, and Nancy and Arn Youngman, to name only a few.

The big draw of the late spring luncheon was the anticipated fashion runway show presented by South Coast Plaza, also a significant donor to the Childhelp cause. For years the retail giant has been there for Childhelp, producing the fashion show of the season on the Orange Coast.

Allison Mitchell, Patti Edwards, Chris Gialanella, Jacquie Casey and Diana McBride supporting Childhelp.

Allison Mitchell, from left, Patti Edwards, Chris Gialanella, Jacquie Casey and Diana McBride attend the Childhelp annual spring fashion luncheon.

(John Watkins)

he 2022 show exceeded all expectations. As the hip-hop music sent models down the catwalk, lines including ba&sh, Bally, Lafayette 148 New York, Intermix, Ted Baker London, Camilla, Sandro, Maje and Saks Fifth Avenue were showcased to the applause from the fashion-conscious audience.

Fashion show produced by South Coast Plaza.

The fashion show was produced by South Coast Plaza.

(John Watkins)

Spotted in the crush were Christine Bren, Sally Crockett, Mary Allen Dexter, Arlene Esgate, Barbara Ganahl, Debbie Drucker Nesbitt and Olivia Abel. The always glamorous Beverly Cohen, and always best dressed Suki McCardle also generously supported the kids of Childhelp.

Childhelp committee members making the success possible included Linda Burns, Terri Carlson, Susan Earlabaugh, Jennifer Kite, Katherine Meredith, Pam Pharris, Joyce Simon, Laura Smith, Tami Smith, Deborah Violette and Diana Miner. Funds raised will benefit programs for the children at the Childhelp Group Homes in Costa Mesa and the Merv Griffin Village in the Riverside County city of Beaumont.

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