Unless you're Eloise, it's rare to find an opportunity to grace the Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom floor. But that's exactly what a bevy of philanthropic New Yorkers did last night for the third annual Save the Children Illumination Gala, where stars like Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, and Stephanie March celebrated the nonprofit.
Dressed in a sleek black sleeveless piece with clever sheer panel, Garner masterfully fulfilled her hosting duties and delivered a welcome speech on the stage. "I'm excited to celebrate some true heroes tonight that have diverse backgrounds from medicine to business to the arts," she said. "They share a passionate commitment to improving the lives of children here in the U.S. and around the world. Each of them uses their time, talent, and resources to make the world a better place for kids."
"Whether you're a mom and dad in South Carolina or South Sudan, all parents want the best for their children. Their hopes and dreams for their children are the same as yours as mine. Sometimes they just need a helping hand and that's where Save the Children comes in," said Garner, a board of trustees member.
The 13 Going on 30 star was of course referring to the millions of dollars that the charitable organization has raised over the years to provide basic essentials (think books, food, and healthcare) for underserved families. Proud mom Wilde was among the evening's honorees, which also included John Green (author of Paper Towns) and his brother Hank Green (they helm the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel) and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, M.D. "We're losing mothers from preventable illnesses everyday as well as infants from things like dehydration, diarrhea, malaria, things that are all preventable," Wilde told reporters before the event. "And so Save the Children is doing really effective work to counteract these deaths."
The Love the Coopers actress—who appeared svelte in a floor-length dress with lace detailing—said she turned to her mom, an investigative journalist, to make sure the organization truly did help others. "She said, 'I like the Save the Children guys. They're always good. They know what they're doing.' And she's worked in every war zone in the world, so I thought, 'if she approves of them, they're good," she told InStyle.
Though the cause incited serious topics of conversation, country music star Brad Paisley helped lighten the mood and belted out several of his hits. So did he have butterflies in his stomach before taking the spotlight? "I don't really get nervous at something like this," the singer, who has worked with Garner on Save the Children projects in their home state of West Virginia together, told InStyle. "When I get nervous is anytime where I'm doing something I'm not really qualified to be doing. But when they want me to come sing a couple of songs, I can do that. It's not that big of a deal." Naturally, he hit the nail on the head.