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September 21, 1999
Stars Get Together For A Good Cause
A P Kamath
Padma Lakshmi, who has walked the runway for every top designer from Armani to Valentino, and authored the cookbook, Easy Exotic: A Model's Low-Fat Recipes From Around The World joins upcoming star Rahul Khanna (of Earth fame) and writer and actor Aasif Mandvi (Sakina's Restaurant) to raise money for Children's Hope (India), a New York based charity, set up by professional Indian American women.
Called Moonlight Magic in the Park, the September 26 event is being held at Tavern on the Green, a ritzy restaurant in New York's Central Park.
The event will also honor Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (Democrat) for her continued and tireless efforts for gun control. McCarthy, whose husband was killed several years ago along with more than a dozen people on a suburban train by a gun-wielding man, joined politics following her husband's death.
Each year, Children's Hope recognizes people who have made positive changes in the lives of children with its Making a Difference awards. The past honorees are Dr Lorraine Hale of Hale House, Ganga Stone of God's Love We Deliver, Dr Shamita Das Dasgupta of Manavi, and Muzzafar Chishti, a crusading lawyer for immigrants's rights.
"This year we are honoring an issue that touches all our lives, and the lives of our children," says Lavina Melwani, a New York-based writer and one of the organization's founders.
The $ 125-evening includes the Tavern's signature hors d'oeuvres, pasta and desserts followed by dancing to the music of DJ Kucha.
About 500 people from the tri-state Indian-American community are expected to attend the event.
Anand Chulani, possibly the first Indian-American stand up comic in New York, who been performing at the Boston Comedy Club and the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, is also part of the event.
"Each year, we have seen the collection going up," says Melwani.
Last year, it gave away $ 60,000, Melwani says. "This year we would like to give away $ 100,000."
Melwani says Rahul Khanna and Padma Lakshmi will be at the gaming tables for Children's Hope.
"So come and play roulette and blackjack -- and you might just win the top prizes which include round-trip air-tickets to India, a Tiffany's gift certificate and bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label," she says.
Children's Hope (India) Inc is also expanding its activities in New York. "As immigrants we should realize there is a lot of scope for social work in America," Melwani says, adding that the number of corporate sponsors has increased steadily.
This year there are two major (platinum) sponsors: Computer Associates, the leading name in technology, and United Retail Group Inc. Raphael Benaroya, United Retail president, has been a long-time supporter of the organization and a friend of India.
Children's Hope supports 60 balwadis or headstart schools for these children through Pratham -- the Mumbai Education Initiative. In Delhi, CH has built a night shelter for runaway street kids through the Salaam Baalak Trust; In Calcutta, it funds heart surgery for babies who are born with defective hearts, through the Society For Indian Children's Welfare. In New York, the organization has supported the Hale House, the Pediatric Respite Program, and is currently working with The Newcomer School, which sees to the needs of immigrant children.
For more information, check the website at http://www.childrenshopeindia.com or contact Lavina Melwani at (516) 579-5264.
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