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These 'Palomas' Are Full of Charity

Los Gatos-based women's charity group hopes monthly luncheons will help connect sister friends in need of bonding and benefit worthy causes.

These 'Palomas' Are Full of Charity These 'Palomas' Are Full of Charity These 'Palomas' Are Full of Charity These 'Palomas' Are Full of Charity

The new Los Gatos-based women's charity group Las Palomas, or Doves, is gearing up for another fundraising luncheon Thursday at noon at benefitting the Girls Leadership Institute.

Started in December by Los Gatos residents Jennifer Croll, Claire Farwell and Marilyn Dorsa, the group traces its roots to Arizona more than a decade ago, where Croll founded it.

Las Palomas host charity luncheons where about 100 to 150 women patronize a fun restaurant every month with a different charity selected each time. A $55 ticket allows the group to raise $25 for charity and the rest goes to the restaurant and to cover administrative costs, explained Croll.

"We realized there were a lot of people, moms, who wanted to give back to the community, but didn't have time or didn't know how to do it," Croll said.

Since the local fashionista and mother of two owned clothing stores throughout the United States, she said she had a lot of women in her demographics who were also moms with children who longed to get together with friends, have fun and contribute to a worthy cause.

"I thought, 'let's do it,' " Croll said. "My charitable passion is to try to get people to have fun while they're doing something positive for others. Giving back is just part of what's happening."

The group's kickoff luncheon was held in December at , which , 115 No. Santa Cruz Ave.

Thursday's event is underwritten by co-hosts Jennifer Dinapoli and Marybeth Benham. The other hostesses are Claudia Mann, Andrea Thomas, Lola Cox and Jeri Ng.

Los Gatos small business owner Judy Stanley, of , will be the hostess for the April 2 charity luncheon, along with friends Leah Rodemeyer, Julie Micallef, and Catherine Briggs.

Each recipient of the Palomas' generosity has to be either a small local women's or children's group. In December, the charity of choice was the Next Door shelter, a 24-hour emergency refuge that provides safe housing and crisis counseling for women and their children.

Stanley also hopes to have a fashion and a trunk show as part of the luncheon and Croll and Farwell will launch their new "Jennifer Claire" clothing line at that event.

Croll and Farwell are not new to hosting charity events. They put together Una Bella Note for the , which was successful. Croll also serves on the board of directors for the LGEF and helps with special events.

Charity representatives are invited to speak also at the events and pass their literature around, Croll said. The charity receives much needed money with amounts as high as $2,500 minimum per luncheon, she added.

Croll hopes to grow the organization nationwide. "There's a need for people wanting to give back, but this is a fun vehicle for women to have fun with their girlfriends, connect and do a good deed. We're all so busy, but to have one place to go once a month, where you know you're going to see your friends and have lunch, and give to charity is a great thing," Croll said.

Croll, who also serves on the was born and raised in Los Gatos. She graduated from the University of Southern California, and then began her first clothing store in town called Jennifer Croll. The store was located next to her mother's store where . is now situated.

Croll moved back to Los Gatos in the fall of 2009. She closed her stores in the spring of 2009 due to the economy. In the meantime, however, she's been doing real estate consulting and development.

Croll is also working for startup Plum District, which caters to women with children. Based in San Francisco, the business likes to give back, too, she said.

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