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Alyssa Milano inspires Dallas to put children first during impassioned evening

Dallas’ spring social season is in full swing, which means myriad causes are benefiting from the city’s charitable spirit. On April 15, that cause was saving and improving children’s lives, via the second annual Children First: An Evening with UNICEF, held at Sixty Five Hundred.

The event honored social media-savvy actress Alyssa Milano with the Spirit of Compassion Award for her 13 years as a UNICEF Ambassador. “I wanted to help children long before I had my own,” she said during her speech. “If you give them love, they will give it back tenfold.”

Milano — who was tested for HIV alongside frightened women in Angola in 2004 and recently visited Kosovo, where she was devastated to see “hungry children who didn’t know when they would eat again” — added that, “if angels exist, my guess is they work in the fields for UNICEF.”

In closing, she encouraged everyone in the room to “live a life that focuses on giving.”

Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, was equally impressive in her remarks, noting that, “There could be no lasting peace or progress in our world without the prioritization of children and the recognition that their survival and well-being are the responsibility of all of us.”

Also honored during the ceremony were Pier 1 Imports, which received the UNICEF Children First Award for its 31-year commitment to raising funds for the organization, and Sterling McDavid, recipient of the first NextGen Champion for Children Award.

After a three-course meal of spinach and citrus salad, beef tenderloin, and bread pudding, the event continued with a spirited live auction featuring such big-ticket items as dinner with Dirk Nowitzki and friends (his wife, Jessica Nowitzki, was the evening’s co-chair alongside Joyce Goss) and a trip to the set of Madam Secretary to hang with star and UNICEF Ambassador Téa Leoni.
The impressive crowd — including actress Naomie Harris, Sheryl and Eric Maas, Serena Simmons Connelly, Catie Enrico, Selwyn Rayzor, Leigh Rinearson, Gowri and Alex Sharma, Courtney Sinelli, and Kenny Goss — also enjoyed a rousing performance by country singer Sara Evans.

All told, the evening, hosted by Nancy and Richard Rogers, raised more than $730,000 in support of UNICEF.

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