Ruth DeNault receives Concordia's Volunteer Service award from President Kurt J. Krueger. (Jon Beck / May 11, 2014)

Concordia University in Irvine celebrated its 14th annual Gala of Stars, honoring trustee Ruth DeNault and raising $575,000 for student scholarships.

The gala unfolded on campus in the Concordia Arena, which had been transformed into an elegant dining room dressed in black and silver accents. Honorary event co-chairs Neil and June Ash pulled out all stops to produce an evening designed to reflect the Christian heritage of Concordia and its call to servant leadership.

Kurt Kruger, president of Concordia, was front and center, commenting, "Concordia University has made it a priority to instill in students an awareness of their responsibility to become wise, honorable, cultivated world citizens and take on leadership in whatever they do."

DeNault, who was honored with the annual Servant Leadership Award, "has led with a servant's heart, supporting Concordia while continuing to assist students pursue their education," according to Kruger. DeNault and her late husband, Jim DeNault, founded and ran a chain of seven hardware stores in Orange County. A Concordia alumna with both a bachelor's and master's in business, DeNault has also served as president of the Orange County Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

The crowd enjoyed dinner followed by an auction led by event emcee Bill Menish and entertainment provided by Concordia students under the direction of Steve Young.

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National Charity League awards local girls

Eighteen young women, all graduating seniors from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, were awarded a total of $22,900 in scholarships provided by the Newport Chapter of the National Charity League. The recipients were chosen based on their academic, athletic and community service records as well as a submitted essay. They could not be daughters of league members.

In the fall, the students will attend a variety of colleges, including UC Irvine, Southern Methodist University and Orange Coast College. Winners from Newport Harbor High School include Ashley Batres, Katelynne Dangl, Maria Gaytan, Cristi Hernandez, Ashley Ima, Erin Jacobs, Elizabeth Kremer, Marissa Robertson, Jocelyn Rodriguez and Jessica Rosales. Representing Costa Mesa High School are Kenya Avila, Anna Do, Sophie Harriman and Jocelyn Menendez. Lauren Dean was chosen from Corona del Mar High School. From Estancia High School, Doris Corona and Cassandra Garcia were selected. The winner from Back Bay High School is Michelle Stanila.

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A real estate showing for charity

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Orange County received a $20,000 check this summer from the real estate developers behind the new urban Essex Skyline building in Santa Ana. A late June open house on a balmy Thursday evening attracted the crowd to Essex Skyline to check out the units. But that was just a part of the adventure.

Organizers produced a party that included a very hip fashion show featuring Max Mara, HUGO by Hugo Boss and lingerie by La Perla. Parading beauties wore jewels by Baccarat.

In the crowd were VIP guests including Super Bowl football star Cedrick Hardman, Ms. America Robin Griffin and special guest speaker Dennis Kuhl, chairman of the Angels Baseball organization. Guests bid on exotic auction items and sampled bites from some of the O.C.'s top chefs, who donated their services to support the work of the local blood cancer charities.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.