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BENEFITS O.C.

Happy Haunting Grounds

Pumpkins & Pancakes fund-raiser in Costa Mesa offers family fun to benefit abused or neglected children.

October 27, 1998|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Pumpkins & Pancakes, a Halloween monster mash for kids at South Coast Plaza's Crystal Court in Costa Mesa. Sunday's scary masquerade was staged by the Friends of CASA-CAST, which raises funds for abused and neglected children.

Tricks and treats: All three levels of Crystal Court were filled with more than 1,500 guests, including many little monsters, pint-sized princesses and superheroes. The kids went trick-or-treating from store to store, played carnival games and clapped to the folksy music of Craig 'n Co., a favorite band of the under-12 set. Guests also ate stacks and stacks of pancakes. "Parents love taking their kids to this event because it's safe and we keep them occupied for three straight hours," said Karen Klein, event chairwoman.

Stand and deliver: Volunteers with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) develop a one-on-one relationship with an abused, abandoned or neglected child. They become role models while representing the child's interests in Juvenile Court. Eric and Tiffany Stone of Orange serve as advocates for three children they brought to the party. "We are there as role models and as friends," Eric said. "We build up trust and make sure they don't fall through the cracks."

Quote: "It makes such a difference to have an advocate who really speaks out for a child," said Kylie Hodge, board president of the Friends of CASA-CAST. "The advocates are friends to the children as they go through the big, scary [judicial] system."

Bottom line: Pumpkins & Pancakes was expected to net $50,000, which will go to CASA and CAST (Child Abuse Services Team). CAST volunteers serve as advocates for children going through investigations after reports of child sexual abuse.

Faces: Deborah Abrecht, executive director of CASA; Ken Salgado, board president of CASA; Ron Ainsworth, CASA board member; Mary Fox; Danielle Swanson; Shannon Zech; Jerry Roberts; and Murray Schrantz.

Ahead: The Friends of CASA-CAST will stage a Christmas tea at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point on Dec. 4. A black-tie gala, Celebration of Children, will be Feb. 5 at the Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach. (714) 780-8733.

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