The bidding started at $1 million at Baby2Baby’s annual fundraiser gala on Saturday night.
“I’m just gonna go big here,” said a perky Zooey Deschanel standing alongside fellow emcee Julie Bowen. “Is there anyone here who wants to raise their hand and give $1 million?”
She scanned the room with a coquettish grin. “I know it’s a lot.”
“Holy crap,” Bowen said, playing along. “Who do you think you are?”
“Zooey,” she shrugged.
Seconds later they turned to each other asking: “Do you see what I see?”
There was a taker: Miranda Kerr and husband Evan Spiegel of Snapchat. They kicked off the night with the donation, adding to the $5 million already raised from ticket sales and supporters, with Paul Mitchell as title sponsor.
Kim Kardashian was next, offering $500,000 with Skims cofounders Emma and Jens Grede. Another $500,000 was given anonymously. And then came the only live auction item: a painting by artist Rashid Johnson. Sitting among attendees, Johnson gifted “Baby Blue” (2023), valued at $550,000. Between three bidders, including a caller, the piece was secured by Rick Caruso for $775,000.
“Congratulations,” Johnson told him, meeting Caruso’s wife Tina and daughter Gigi.
In the end, including funds from a silent auction, more than $12 million was raised. Hosted at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif., guests included Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Hailey Bieber, Zoe Saldaña, Olivia Wilde, Demi Lovato, Heidi Klum, Alessandra Ambrosio, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons. Dinner was curated by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s, showcasing L.A.’s favorite hot spots — the likes of Funke and Goop Kitchen, with both Evan Funke and Paltrow herself behind their booths.
Founded by Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein in 2011, Baby2Baby began with a mission of providing diapers and basic necessities to every child in need. In one year, the organization has donated 100 million items, including formula and clothing, providing more than 375 million essentials to date. The nonprofit has brought its work to Capitol Hill, advocating for sales tax to be removed from diapers and piloting a program to combat the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S.
“Women are dying during or shortly after childbirth at double the rate of a generation ago,” said Patricof.
“This year, the child poverty rate more than doubled,” said Weinstein. “And to paint a picture of that, 39 percent of the families we serve at Baby2Baby are not only living below the poverty line, but are living 200 percent or more below it, with an annual income of $13,875 or less for a family of four.”
“After COVID[-19] and record-breaking inflation, it’s gotten worse, much worse,” added Patricof. “Today, a staggering one half of all families in this country are struggling to afford diapers. They’re using newspapers and towels, are taking their diapers off their babies, hanging them to dry and putting them back on their babies. And we cannot accept this.”
The duo opened a manufacturing system to produce diapers for 80 percent less than the average retail price, distributing five times as many, according to the nonprofit. And they’ve been among first responders during natural disasters.
“Because we serve children in all 50 states on a year-round basis, we had fortuitously sent diapers and wipes to the Hawaiian diaper bank the day before the Maui fires broke out,” Patricof went on. “So, while everyone was scrambling to support this tiny island in the middle of a catastrophe, Baby2Baby items were already there. Thanks to the support of so many of you in this room, we also sent cargo planes with a half million additional emergency supplies, including diapers, formula, soap and baby food to families who had lost everything.”
This year Baby2Baby has given $50 million worth of children’s essentials, she added. “We distributed 525,000 hygiene items, 872,000 units of clothing, 6 million bottles of formula, 900,000 backpacks and school supplies and half a million units of food. We serve 1 million children every year across 277 cities.”
They’ve taken their work abroad, recently aiding Palestinian and Israeli children.
“For both Israeli and Palestinian babies, we have helped in the only way we know how as an organization dedicated to children and their basic needs, sending over $1 million emergency baby supplies, including diapers, clothes and blankets to children throughout the region,” said Weinstein.
“While it’s such a difficult time in the world, I feel so good to be a part of something that’s so positive, where we all have the opportunity to give back,” Kardashian said, taking the stage earlier as last year’s Giving Tree Award recipient. This year it went to Salma Hayek Pinault, the night’s honoree.
Pinault, introduced by Channing Tatum, gave an emotional speech, emphasizing the need for unity and love, encouraging Baby2Baby to continue to expand beyond the U.S.
“The children of the world desperately need you, more now than ever,” Pinault said, sharing a story of visiting Sierra Leone 15 years ago.
“It was the first time I separated from my new baby,” said the actress. “And we were doing medical aid and vaccinations for children and teenagers. I remember going into a hospital where they didn’t even have oxygen, no electricity. It was in such bad condition. And I had to go into the room with a mother who had a newborn girl who was condemned to die. And I entered the room and this woman was barely alive herself from sorrow. The strangest thing, she took her baby and she handed me over the baby. And a few minutes later, the baby died in my arms. She didn’t know who the hell I was. But here was a stranger that walked in. I guess she wanted support. She wanted to hope for something. She didn’t know what to do. She was so desperate…But there I am standing with this baby. I remember the way she was breathing and how there was no weight in her body. And I could feel the life exiting her tiny fragile body. And this was a death that could have been prevented.”
A couple of days later they were in the middle of the jungle, she said: “One woman, a child herself around 14, 15 years old, so skinny and frail, walks in with a baby, so devastated. When I say devastated, like sobbing beyond your imagination, saying, ‘Formula, formula, please somebody give me formula. I gave birth to my baby, I don’t know, two, three days ago, he has not eaten anything. I have no milk. I have no milk. I don’t know what to give him, and he’s dying.’ We had no formula. We had all kinds of other medications, but we didn’t have formula. I said, ‘Give me the baby.’ I had stopped breastfeeding my daughter not too long ago. I said, ‘Let’s give it a try.’ Turns out I had milk.”
She added, “All children are our children.”
A dance party followed, with Snoop Dogg performing his familiar hits. He was introduced on stage by sisters Nicole Richie and Sofia Richie Grainge, joined at the event with husbands Joel Madden and Elliot Grainge.
“What a beautiful night,” said Richie.
“But no means is this party over,” added Grainge, inviting guests to a space next door for dessert and more dancing.