By Rosalba Curiel Posted December 10, 2007, 4:44 PM EST
Sinbad had to back out of his hosting duties for Unicef's Snowflake Ball due to sudden illness, but the fund-raising dinner moved forward nonetheless with Grammy-winner David Foster taking the comedian’s place at the Beverly Wilshire on Thursday. Foster kicked off the evening’s lineup of celebrity musical performances, accompanying 11-year-old August Rush actress Jamia Nash on the piano for a two-song set. Other musical guests included Natalie Cole—who sang “Unforgettable” following her presentation of the Danny Kaye humanitarian award to friends Tamar and Bob Manoukian—as well as Reba McEntire and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. (The reality series received the Champion for Children award for its “Idol Gives Back” programming, which helped raise funds for children’s charities, including Unicef.)
After silent and live auctions, the organization gave guests another opportunity to contribute on the spot, asking them to simply raise a credit-card-clutching hand to donate $500 toward water pumps for communities lacking clean water sources, or $175 to provide school supplies for as many as 80 children. With those specific examples of how their dollars would be spent, guests shot Amexes, Mastercards, and Visas in the air, purchasing supply sets and 50 water pumps. The evening raised more than $850,000.