If Seth Meyers’ introduction at last night’s 7th Annual Charity Ball is any indication, flattery will, in fact, get you everywhere. During yesterday evening’s festivities at the 69th Regiment Armory, the comedian opened with, “As many of you know, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was recently held here. But I have to say, you guys look better.” The result? A cool $3 million raised for Charity: Water, a group that funds clean water programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, and India.
Sadly, generosity alone doesn’t qualify one for VS Angel status, but actress Sophia Bush is doing her darnedest to earn wings of another sort. “My family decided to forgo Christmas presents this year, so I just purchased a well in their name instead,” she said.
Guests like Fern Mallis, Giovanna Battaglia, Mad Men‘s John Slattery, Anne Vyalitsyna, Jessica Lowndes, and DJ Chelsea Leyland joined 1,800 partygoers to rally for the cause. But it was 90210‘s Jessica Stroup who went the extra mile, or rather, miles for Charity: Water. “After taking a trip to Ethiopia last year, I know our efforts will make an impact. I was really impressed to see that 100 percent of the donations are going exactly where they’re needed.” Also on her travel radar? Costa Rica, where she’ll spend the upcoming holiday. “I’m only packing swimsuits! And scripts for the show, of course.”
My, oh my, how Charity: Water has grown. I can remember the first event I went to four years ago: It was a subtle affair, with a few posters and a tiny, overcrowded bar. But with the support of a few key kids about town (among them, Jessica Stam, who first introduced me to the cause, and Adrian Grenier, who hosted the evening), it’s no surprise the fledgling nonprofit, which raises money to build wells and clean-water systems in the third world, has grown. Just look at it now: At Monday night’s fundraiser at the Metropolitan Pavilion, every inch of wall space was filled with moving images of those helped by the charity and videos of food drops, and pumps similar to those the charity builds in rural areas were scattered throughout. Where there was once some dinky electrical tape marking a path guests could lug Water’s jugs—a testament to how difficult a basic necessity is to find in some parts of the world—there was now an elevated, lit-up runway.
“I remember those early days, too, when it was just me and an idea,” explained Charity: Water founder Scott Harrison. “But it’s a testament that we’re doing something right.” Grenier put these improvements in perspective: “Three years, more than 1,500 water projects in 16 countries, and nearly 1 million people served. Not bad, is it?” Not bad, indeed.