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Baby2Baby, the nonprofit organization led by co-CEOs Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, has distributed more than 200 million essential items such as diapers, baby wipes, clothing, and school supplies to children in homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, foster care, and underserved schools across the country. Due to COVID-19, the need for basic necessities continues to grow. Washington took to the stage and gave an impassioned speech about how “enraged” she is that homelessness, joblessness, and poverty still prevail in our society. The Emmy winner shared that she grew up poor, but her family was able to receive resources and opportunities that provided relief. She pleaded to the crowd that social support systems like Baby2Baby are driven by a commitment toward caring for one another and are more vital than ever in today’s society.

“I come to you as a kid from the Bronx who knows too well, and if it weren’t for the grace of God in my life and generous support from wealthy people and generous institutions and social services geared toward equity, things could have been very different for me,” she said. “I knew that my parents loved me very much and they worked tremendously hard and made enormous sacrifices to provide for our family. But my parents also had structural resources and strong social services that offered them opportunities to succeed.”

Vanessa Bryant made a rare public appearance with her three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, all by her side to accept the Giving Tree Award for supporting Baby2Baby for the past seven years. It’s the first official family event since Kobe, 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends, and the pilot died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Dressed in a pink-feathered gown by designer Pamella Roland, Bryant matched with Natalia, her oldest daughter, who wore a pink satin dress. In a taped message, Kim Kardashian described Bryant as “the cool mom, she’s the beautiful mom, the silly mom, the warm mom, she is the best mom.” Onstage, singer Ciara was in tears as she presented her with the award.

“I have to start by saying how much I miss my perfect date tonight. My husband Kobe loved attending Baby2Baby galas,” Bryant said while fighting back tears at the podium. Kobe last attended the 2019 gala with his wife. “With his big smile, he would look at me and say, ‘Babe, this is freakin’ awesome. Tonight I’m your plus one.’ He would say, ‘It’s the one event I’m not obligated to do anything. I get to be your date, help families, and enjoy great food.’”

An emotional Bryant continued her speech by describing how she and Kobe noticed the sheer number of homeless people on the drive home from the Staples Center after a Lakers basketball game, which inspired their activism.

“That was eye-opening to us and we wanted to do something about it. So we started our own foundation to help. As time went on I was introduced to Baby2Baby, so I wanted to get involved with them…I want to thank my husband Kobe, my daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri, and all of our close friends and family. Without your love and support I wouldn’t have the strength to be here this evening. I love you.”

The opulent party ended with Ciara giving a crowd-pleasing performance of her hit songs and the crowd dancing.

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