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“I have to say I’m absolutely so stunned and impressed by this event — I’ve never been to a charity event that had such good food!” Gwyneth Paltrow exclaimed at the 2017 Baby2Baby Gala, which once again served up an assortment of delicacies from Los Angeles’ leading restaurants to a glittery crowd of A-listers. “Normally it’s more of a rubber chicken thing, and In-N-Out on the way home, but not today!”
It was Paltrow‘s first appearance at the annual fundraiser presented by Paul Mitchell, which raised just shy of $4 million for Baby2Baby’s philanthropic efforts, which over the past six years have included distributing over 34 million items — more than 20 million diapers alone — to families living in poverty and recently supplied over 3.6 million basic essentials to provide relief to the families impacted by the recent series of catastrophic natural disasters including hurricane-struck regions in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and fire-ravaged areas in Northern California.
Before an industry-heavy crowd of celebrities, influencers and movers and shakers assembled at 3Labs headquarters in Culver City — including past honoree Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Kristen Bell and husband Dax Shepard, J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrath, Nicole Richie and husband Joel Madden, Sterling K. Brown and wife Ryan Bathe and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — the Oscar-winning actress was presented with the charity’s Giving Tree Award, bestowed each year to a mother who uses her position in the public eye to advocate on behalf of the low-income children the organization serves.
“She’s beautiful, she’s chic, she’s stylish — basically, she’s perfect. But what makes her truly, truly perfect is her heart,” said designer and filmmaker Tom Ford, Paltrow’s close friend of two decades, who presented her with the honor. “Throughout Gwyneth’s long history of philanthropic work, she’s been the champion of missions ranging from improving education to fighting poverty to combating hunger in underserved communities.”
“I think we’re living in very interesting times, and I think we really need to rely on each other, on our empathy, in order to go into our communities and help and lift each other up,” said Paltow, accepting her award in a sleek black bodysuit with a plunging neckline. “It seems that, in a certain way, the divides are potentially going to be greater, and there are people who really need us.”
“The Giving Tree Award is basically made for women in the public eye who are giving back every day, and Gwyneth just embodies that spirit,” Baby2Baby co-president Kelly Sawyer told The Hollywood Reporter. “Her whole life revolves around family, work, and giving back, so I think she’s the perfect honoree for us.”
Baby2Bay co-president Norah Weinstein said that after just six years in operation, the organization’s mission has seen a quantum leap forward of late. “The last few years we’ve been focused on L.A., we then expanded into 20 other cities,” she said. “The hurricanes, unfortunately, made for a real way to use that expansion. … It has been a way to really utilize our infrastructure and learn the lessons we’ve learned in Los Angeles to help the communities that need it most during those times.”
Jessica Alba, who hosted the evening, said she couldn’t help but feel empathy for families enduring difficult circumstances that often forced them to make hard choices about which basic essentials they can afford.
“I just know how hard it is to raise a kid with all the means that we have,” said Alba, whose household goods firm The Honest Company donates millions of products to Baby2Baby. “I couldn’t imagine having to choose between having a diaper or food for your family that week, or not being able to provide a safe place for your baby to sleep at night, or giving your child shoes that fit for them to go to school. Those types of things are real things that people, right here in L.A. and across the country, are having deal with.”
Along with providing vital services, the actress, who is expecting the imminent arrival of her third child — and first boy — with husband Cash Warren, was also thrilled to have a night out where she said, “I actually feel glamorous! I don’t feel glamorous at all when I’m pregnant, so it’s nice to kind of dress up and feel beautiful. I usually feel sort of like Humpty Dumpty. You just kind of feel like you’re slothing around and hormonal, and nothing fits the same. In this dress, I actually feel kind of pretty.”
The annual evening has become a must-attend for many devotees of both the cause and the incredible array of food from local hot spots that the gala provides — with this year’s buffet-style options including lobster rolls by Son of a Gun, pastrami reubens from Wexler’s Deli, assorted sushi hand rolls and sashimi by KazuNori and steak and potatoes by Animal, along with veggie dishes like Trois Familia’s double-decker potato tacos and Craig’s vegan cheeseburger sliders, plus post-dinner pizza from Jon and Vinny’s and cocktails curated by The Spare Room.
Julie Bowen said she wouldn’t miss the gala for anything, including a major milestone for her long-running sitcom. “Tonight is our 200th episode party for Modern Family, and I had a long-standing commitment to Baby2Baby, and I’m thrilled to be here,” the actress told THR. “I was getting out of the house one way or the other! It was happening!”
Zoe Saldana, January Jones, Selma Blair, Alessandra Ambrosio, Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Jaime King, Rachel Bilson, Busy Phillips, Molly Sims and husband Scott Stuber, and Lindsay Price were among the other stars who enjoyed the evening, which included a special “Carpool Karaoke” video featuring Kate Hudson and James Corden singing Mariah Carey, a live auction conducted by Bell and Richie (“If you bid anonymously, my husband will take credit,” quipped Bell) and a performance by pioneering female hip-hop group SWV.
The latter’s performance sparked warm memories from Kelly Rowland, who first met the group 20 years ago when her own act, Destiny’s Child, was just getting started. “I remember when SWV used to come to Houston, they were the first group to embrace us, to invite us backstage,” she recalled. “I remember going to their hotel and we would stay up all night and have cake and food, order room service and do facials. They’re like big sisters, so it’s just awesome to watch them tonight!”
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