Octavia Spencer, Orlando Bloom Help Raise $1.8 Million for City Year

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Octavia Spencer

"If you’ve ever been to the Night Before party for Oscars or Emmys, this to me is like the kid version of that," Spencer said of the organization's annual spring break bash.

With its focus on a commitment to keeping kids in school, City Year Los Angeles threw a very different kind of spring break bash — but still one with plenty of fun and excitement, not to mention a dose of celebrity. The non-profit organization hosted its annual "Spring Break: Destination Education" party on the lawn outside the commissary at Sony Pictures studios.

Among the many celebrity attendees who turned out for the high star-wattage event — including Amy Schumer, Bryan Cranston, Mahershala Ali, Julie Bowen, Tracee Ellis Ross and Pharrell Williams — bulky blue parka-ed Orlando Bloom came the most prepared for the brisk weather, joining the many spirited teen and tween attendees who benefit from City Year’s efforts, laughing and shooting video as several kids showed off their serious skills jamming at the center of an impromptu dance circle.

At times, the young guests were almost overwhelmed by the sheer amount of celebrities who turned out to support the cause and help raise over $1.8 million. Jennifer Garner was only a few steps into the party when she was quickly surrounded by a swirl of young admirers eager to meet her; a group of slightly intimidated young women decided it was best to approach Liam Hemsworth en masse, rewarded warmly with selfies for each of them; kids were delighted to catch a moment with Emma Roberts and her beau Evan Peters together; and This Is Us stars Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown turned heads at opposite ends of the sprawling party, which hosted 1,400 people.

“This is my big baby, this is the charity I’m most involved with,” Octavia Spencer, a member of City Year board and one of the evening’s hosts — proudly sporting one of the group’s signature bright yellow jackets — told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a big, fun event. If you’ve ever been to the Night Before party for Oscars or Emmys, this to me is like the kid version of that. The families get to bring their kids out for a fun night for a great cause. It’s amazing.

“I think education is the key out of poverty,” the Academy Award-nominated actress continued. “The success stories are that once kids who are actually in it and have been helped by it, they usually come back and become core members. That in and of itself is a bit of pride for me. We got them across the finish line, and they come back and they give their time. It’s the best way to pay it forward.”

One Republic provided the evening’s main musical performance, and an A-to-Z array of dozens more stars, from Mahershala Ali to Zendaya, shared moments with the kids and volunteers at specialty booths sponsored by Aramark, Comcast NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC Television Group, E!, the Hauptman Family Foundation, Hulu, JP Morgan Chase/Atom Tickets, Karma Tequila, People Magazine, RealD, SnapChat, Twentieth Century Fox and Univision.

“It’s a carnival fun vibe,” said Yvette Nicole Brown. “I did kid shows. I’ve been on Drake and Josh and Victorious, and even Community is a show that younger people enjoy, so if I can come here and bring them a little happiness because they see someone that they saw on TV, then that’s even better.”