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Our Laguna: Montage holiday event draws a throng

December 02, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • People gather around fire at the Montage Resort, moments before lighting the Christmas tree.
People gather around fire at the Montage Resort, moments… (Coastline Pilot )

Montage Resort & Spa brightened the start of the holiday season this year with its first-ever tree lighting, the grand finale to an evening of cheer and goodwill.

An estimated 1,300 revelers enjoyed the resort's hospitality, which culminated in the lighting of the tree at 6:30 p.m., and applauded its generous early holiday gift to the Laguna Relief and Resource Center.

A $5,000 check was presented to center representatives Faye Chapman and Don Campbell, honoring the contributions of the Hearts of Montage, a volunteer group of employees which has raised money for local for non-profits almost since the resort opened.

"We have raised $1,379,000 since September of 2003," said Chris Loidolt, Hearts member and manager of the Montage Business Center. "Our first event was coastal cleanup seven months after Montage opened and we have done quarterly cleanups of Treasure Island since then."

Twice every year the group donates food and clothing the resource center and adopts a family for the holidays.

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"I was completely surprised by the donation on Monday," a beaming Chapman said.

Over the years, the Hearts have donated funds to the Susi Q, SchoolPower, the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach, the Laguna Beach Clinic, the Friends of the Library, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the Ocean Institute to pay for visits by El Morro Elementary School students and Boys and Girls Club members. Grants have been awarded to Clean Water Now!, Crystal Cove Alliance and Friendship Shelter.

Other Hearts activities include 21 blood drives, at which were collected 816 pints of blood, enough for 2,448 transfusions.

The Hearts have participated in the Race for the Cure and AIDs Walks

Hearts Board members on hand for the presentation of the check to Chapman and Campbell included Mary Church, Ben Pearson, Joyce Logan, Patty Burns, Casey Witherspoon, Julie McCue, Carol Leenerts (who is also on the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau board). Lyndsay Lynch, Jane Lledo, Nick Guzzetta and Loidolt.

"We are passionate about serving the community," Loidolt said.

The group was introduced by hotel general manager Todd Orlick, who took over as master of ceremonies after Montage Hotels and Resorts Vice President James Bermingham welcomed the crowd.

And they, along with Chapman and Campbell were given the honor of pushing the Easy button that lighted the tree.

Orlick also paid tribute to the staff planners of the resort's inaugural event, coordinated by catering director Jaime Puffer.

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