By  on September 28, 2009

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Organizers of Macy’s 27th annual Passport gala lowered their charity fund-raising goal this year because of the troubled economy, but stressed the need for financial support was undiminished.

Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said he hoped the dinner and fashion show at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hanger on Thursday night would raise at least $1 million for HIV/AIDS research, care and prevention — down from $1.45 million last year.

Citing the $29 million raised since the event began, Lundgren said, “That’s why it’s more important than ever that we continue to support these causes. They need our help. So many of these nonprofits are suffering more than they’ve suffered in recent years.”

Sharon Stone was again the emcee of the gala and Elizabeth Taylor, speaking from a wheelchair, told the more than 1,500 guests: “It is up to us. It is our responsibility to take care of those who are sick and dying.”

The event took place as scientists last week revealed that a new AIDS vaccine for the first time was been found to protect a significant number of people in a six-year clinical trial of 16,000 volunteers in Thailand.

Among those who attended were La Toya Jackson, along with event sponsors such as Calvin Klein Inc. president and chief executive officer Tom Murry, Rachel Roy and Jones Apparel Group president and ceo Wesley Card.

“It’s such an honor to be included in this event; they don’t invite just anyone, and that’s why it’s been so consistently amazing,” said Roy, whose Rachel Rachel Roy diffusion line includes sportswear, shoes and accessories exclusive to Macy’s.

While acknowledging the impact of the recession, executives spoke hopefully of the future.

“Things are improving, and that’s important for people to recognize as we continue to support causes like this,” said Murry, whose Calvin Klein white label is sold through Macy’s.

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