The Avon Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Awards Gala — held Tuesday at Cipriani 42nd Street — raised $2.2 million for women’s causes, putting Avon Products Inc. on track to have raised and donated more than $800 million by yearend for efforts to stamp out breast cancer and violence against women, and to provide disaster relief.
Avon chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Jung said the amount brings the gala’s fund-raising total to more than $20 million over the last decade.
“Today, we are the largest corporate [philanthropy] committed to issues that matter to women,” Jung declared to the audience of 560. Jung, who noted that next month marks her 11th year as ceo, said Avon’s breast cancer crusade began in 1992 with the sale of a pink ribbon pin, and to date has raised a total of nearly $700 million across 55 countries to help find a cure for breast cancer.
Reese Witherspoon,Avon spokeswoman and the Foundation’s honorary chairman, said that over her three-year partnership with the company, “I’ve witnessed Avon’s unique ability to mobilize its vast army of sales representatives.”
In March, Witherspoon and Jung traveled to Washington to present a $500,000 grant for the U.S. Secretary of State’s Fund for Global Women’s Leadership, at a ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Witherspoon, wearing a strapless Jason Wu dress, demurred when asked if she swapped fashion tips with the First Lady, given their shared fondness for the designer. “We mostly talked about our kids. We’re both mothers,” she said.
The evening reinforced Avon’s commitment to ending violence against women. “One in three women is a victim of violence against women,” Jung told WWD. “It’s tougher, in a way, to take on this issue.” She said she was encouraged that both the Secretary of State and the U.S. State Department are “taking this on.” Avon, together with Vital Voices and U.S. State Department, has partnered on a pilot program in 15 countries in which business, government, non-government organizations, law enforcement and the media work together to end domestic violence.
Taking over the podium, a visibly emotional Patrick Dempsey said he’s looking forward to the day when the last gala is held, having helped to eradicate cancer and domestic violence. “Won’t it be great when we can say, ‘It’s over! We can all go home and put on my cologne,” he quipped.
Earlier in the evening, he let slip to WWD that his third scent will be unveiled shortly. Turning his thoughts to the gala, he said, “It’s my favorite part of the year, quite honestly, because you’re actually doing something that’s positive…You’re honoring the people who have done a lot of hard work and deserve the recognition. To come in as a celebrity in itself is quite empty, but if you have a really positive cause you believe in it really fills you up. It doesn’t take energy away from you. There are a lot of women all over the world that are suffering that need help and attention, and Avon does that really well.”
Avon’s latest recruit, Christy Turlington Burns presented a $520,000 grant on behalf of Avon to fund cancer treatment in Haiti.
Turlington Burns, the face of the upcoming scent Slip Into…, a fragrance designed to capture the feeling of slipping into stilettoes, lifted her Temperley gown a few inches to show off her Marc Jacobs heels. “It’s a beautiful shoe and it’s a comfortable shoe. Comfort is queen.”
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