Sean Penn’s charity raises $3.5 million for Haiti

From onstage at Saturday’s Community Organized Relief Effort gala at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, host Sean Penn cited two cardinal rules of fundraising, starting with, “Don’t bum out the crowd.”

After ticking off the world’s challenges, including Russia’s hypersonic nuclear weapons, leaders who politicize the global economy, a rapidly changing climate, plus lies, greed, rage, sexism, racism and a drug epidemic, he admitted, “I know I’ve broken rule No. 1.”

The two-time Oscar-winning actor, however, delivered on his second rule, that of creating “an encouragement of optimism and solutions — that we in this theater may participate in a shift to better days.”

Haiti and Beyond raised $3.5 million, while honoring CNN’s Anderson Cooper, San Juan Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, and Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Haiti’s special coordinator. Julia Roberts made the presentation to Cooper.

Relaunched, re-branded and expanded as CORE — Community Organized Relief Effort — the charity had previously been known as the J/P Haitian Relief Organization.

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