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PARTY HOPPING

Tricky Timing, but Benefit Brunch Sails

December 24, 1987|ANN CONWAY

It takes nerve to toss a benefit five days before Christmas. On a Sunday. On a Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.

But nobody was saying "Bah, humbug!" at the Rex Restaurant in Newport Beach when owners Rex and Susan Chandler staged their annual brunch for the American Red Cross.

More than 250 guests paid $30 each to dine on matchstick potatoes and a seafood variation of eggs Benedict--smoked salmon (instead of the traditional Canadian bacon), and a dill-flecked hollandaise sauce.

"We've found the brunch to be a perfect way for people to give at Christmas," said Rex Chandler, sporting a Christmas-tree green blazer. "You know how it is. People get busy; they want to do something--they mean to--and then, Christmas is around the corner."

Four years ago, the Chandlers staged their first benefit brunch for African famine relief. "Susan and I had seen so many sad stories on television, and we felt so fortunate with our business, we wanted to do something."

Then, after encouragement from restaurant patrons who supported the Red Cross, the Chandlers chose to continue the affair for the chapter's disaster relief fund.

"This is always a teamwork effort," Rex Chandler said. "Everything is contributed--the chefs and waiters volunteer their time and all the food and beverages are donated."

Among guests were Mary Ann and Lon Wells, who played host to 14 friends at the affair.

Guests of the Wellses included Paul and Virginia Knott Bender (who confided she'd been hearing a lot of "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," lately) and Len and Mary Ann Miller.

While most guests settled happily into the bistro's cozy booths, Joe Perricone--a restaurant habitue so popular that Rex named a pasta dish after him--staked out a stool at the bar.

"I wonder what everyone else is doing today?" Perricone asked, gazing out at the sun-drenched ocean view. Perricone, winner of the Red Cross' 1987 Spirit Award, said he became involved with the organization five years ago, after deciding that it was time he supported a charity. "It's been a very satisfying experience," he said.

Net proceeds from the event were estimated at $7,000.

Christmas with the Chapman family was celebrated by supporters of Florence Crittenton Services of Orange County Inc. when members of the pioneer family gathered at El Dorado ranch, the old family home in Fullerton on Saturday night.

More than 100 guests gathered around a huge Christmas tree decorated with heirloom ornaments to savor traditional fare, hear a tribute to the late Alice Chapman--founder of Crittenton's Felicia auxiliary--and enjoy Dixieland music played by the Fullerton Gassers.

Net proceeds from the $50-per-person event were estimated at $8,000. Among guests were Agnes Trinchero, executive director of Crittenton Services, and Carol and Stanley Chapman Jr., Elizabeth Chapman Bowman, Mary Anne Chapman Blaine, and Kittie and John Rau, president of Crittenton's board of directors.

Located in Fullerton, Florence Crittenton Services is a nonprofit, volunteer agency dedicated to the residential care, education and rehabilitation of troubled teen-age girls and the care and protection of their infants.

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