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Orange County surfer dudes, Stephen Thomson left, Stewart Ramsey and Brad Holdgrafer goof around with yarn at Active Ride Shop in Irvine in this file photo. Their nonprofit Krochet Kids International of Costa Mesa won $500,000 Saturday from the American Giving Awards sponsored by Chase Bank.
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Costa Mesa non-profit wins $500,000 award


A Costa Mesa non-profit helping Ugandan and Peruvian women work their way out of poverty won $500,000 on Saturday, a cash prize that comes with the Community Builders Award it was honored with during the NBC-televised American Giving Awards sponsored by Chase Bank.

Krochet Kids international, established by three surfers in 2008, took the trio's hobby of crocheting hats to Uganda government camps, where refugees from local rebels had been living for as long as 20 years. The Costa Mesa organization teaches women to make the hats it then markets internationally.

Last year, a second operation was set up in Lima, Peru, to help impoverished women living in the city. Krochet Kids international now has 180 beneficiaries in Uganda and 20 in Peru, and intends to use the American Giving Award to expand its Peruvian program.

Twenty-five finalists competed for five prizes totaling $2 million, with winners selected through online voting.

"Each organization in the competition this year was equally inspiring and is each doing amazing work around the globe," said Kohl Crecelius, co-founder of Krochet Kids international. "We are a small organization that has big plans for the future, and $500,000 from Chase will radically change what we are able to do."

Among those supporting Krochet Kids international and its campaign to win the award were Russell Simmons, George Lopez, Volcom, Vans, One Republic and Foster the People.

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