By Michael O'Connell Posted December 17, 2008, 2:20 PM EST
Charity: Water, Scott Harrison’s upstart organization to bring clean wells to Africa and other impoverished nations, held its third annual Charity: Ball Monday night at Metropolitan Pavilion, with more than 1,500 guests in attendance. The Adrian Grenier-hosted event capped off a big year of new sponsors and partnerships for the charity and provided a financial jumping-off point for 2009.
Over the past year, Charity: Water added brands such as Miss Sixty, Wired, and Google to its growing roster of partners and held fund-raisers in New York, Los Angeles, and Denver. Monday’s ball served as an opportunity to reflect on that growth, with some of those initiatives on display at the party. One wall near the stage showcased Charity: Water’s recent programs with Saks Fifth Avenue, Brighton Collectibles, and Theory, and the money those partnerships helped raise.
The organization’s mounting exposure has brought on celebrity evangelists like Jennifer Connelly and mainstream attention from popular culture. This year’s ball actually provided the backdrop for an episode of The City, MTV's upcoming spin-off of The Hills.
The party itself doesn’t come together from the efforts of celebrity but rather from the many vendors willing to work pro bono. Venue, production, and staffing all came compliments of Metropolitan Pavilion—even the bartenders donated the evening's tips to the organization. Designers at Tripp/Mixx once again worked on the room's focal point, the water walk. The labor-intensive runway show, which attempts to simulate the daily journey so many people around the world endure on a daily basis just to get drinking water, took the shape of a square this year so more guests could watch and participate in the interactive exhibition. Kodak and Google pledged donations for every person who traversed the catwalk.
Generosity wasn't limited to the vendors and sponsors. Charity: Ball 2008 outmatched the money made at last year's event. Ticket sales, combined with funds raised by the live and silent auctions, totaled $500,000—bringing the organization's total haul since it began a few years ago to $7.5 million.