“Dancing with the Stars” Performers Support the Lupus LA Bag Ladies

Natalie Coughlin, Melissa Joan Hart and Paula Hart.

Natalie Coughlin, Melissa Joan Hart and Paula Hart.

Lovely ladies from Dancing with the Stars seemed to have saved their best moves to waltz away with darling designer handbags at the 7th annual Lupus L.A. Hollywood Bag Ladies Luncheon. “It is the most fun fundraiser of the year,” said Melissa Joan Hart, the cute Sabrina the Teenage Witch actress who proved she grew up into a dazzling young woman during her recent Dancing with the Stars appearance.
Like many celebrities, Melissa donated many of her personal purses for the cause, and she was there to bid on some fabulous replacements during the lively silent auction. “Where else can you fight tooth and nail for a slightly-used handbag, have a lovely lunch with friends, see a Versace fashion show and enjoy the company of some of the most influential women in town?” Yes, the Bag Ladies lunch is all that and Melissa has supported them from the beginning, which is why she was honored, along with the Hallmark Channel’s Janice Arouh, as Lupus L.A.’s 2009 Women of Achievement.
On hand to cheer Melissa and pick-up some pretty pocketbooks were other “Dancing” alumni Natalie Coughlin (the Olympic swimmer) and ballroom pros Edyta Sliwinska and Anna Trebunskaya. Plus, her mother-producer Paula Hart, best friend Kellie Martin, Parminder Nagra, Linda Cardellini, Jaime Pressly, Rosanna Arquette, Kathy Hilton with daughter Nicky and the amazing luncheon co-chairs Michelle Kaye and Claudia Resnikoff.

Ariana Grande and Santa at the One Heartland benefit.

Ariana Grande and Santa at the One Heartland benefit.

All gathered at the Beverly Wilshire’s grand ballroom to help the cause with more than 500 well-heeled women and a few brave men. Desperate Housewives’ memorable gardener Jesse Metcalfe stood out in the crowd. He told me he wasn’t there just to have the ladies fuss over him. “I’m here to present the honor to Janice Arouh, since I just completed production on a Hallmark movie, Fairfield Road, to air next year. It’s a privilege for me to be at this event.” Smooth and sweet as emcee was Good Day L.A.’s Dorothy Lucey, and Phill Lewis of The Suite Life on Deck Disney series was outstanding as a guest auctioneer.
Some of the gals said that the highlight of the afternoon was the exclusive showcase of Versace’s Spring Collection (I felt very comfy in my trendy Boy Meets Girl designed dress but Versace was also a big “Wow.”). My highlight was hearing Melissa Joan Hart’s heartfelt speech when she accepted her honor. I’ve known Melissa since she was the child star of Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All and has gone on to make movies, produce, direct and even has a shop in Sherman Oaks called “Sweet Harts” that serves yogurt, cupcakes and candy—oh my! She’s wife to a rockstar husband, Mark Wilkerson, and mother to two sensational boys. But she still finds time to get involved with Lupus L.A. “because I’m committed to the cause,” she said proudly.
“All my life I’ve thanked God for keeping my family safe and healthy. So when I heard that my friend Kelly lost her only sister at a very young age, I wanted to help because so many women are affected by this autoimmune disease. Lupus is on the rise and scientists don’t know why. Being the eldest of seven sisters, this truly concerns me. More research is needed and the team at Lupus L.A. has done tremendous work to enlighten everyone. I am grateful they have chosen to honor me,” Melissa said, promising that she’ll see everyone at next year’s luncheon and until then, “we can all hope and pray for good health.” Amen.
One Heartland’s Holiday Celebration

The tree-lighting celebration at the Hollywood and Highland complex brought together families from all over L.A. to enjoy a holiday concert with some great musical artists Mitchel Musso (of Hannah Montana fame), American Idol finalists Kimberley Locke and Michael Johns and the super group I’m OK You’re OK (Universal Records). The event also helped kids in need as One Heartland hosted a mini-concert before the main event to raise funds for Camp Heartland. Hunky guys Robbie Amell (True Jackson) and Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls) helped emcee and KTLA’s beautiful Markina Brown (a proud Valley gal) played host to the generous families who enjoyed the private reception with the stars, and also kids (impacted by HIV, poverty and loss) who have benefited from the Camp Heartland experience. Others on hand were Eduardo Xol (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Noah Munck (iCarly) and a great young singer Ariana Grande (Victorious) who said the charity event was all about “making a difference in peoples’ lives,” and seeing Santa spread holiday cheer.


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