WASHINGTON — Oprah Winfrey stunned the crowd gathered at the annual luncheon for the N Street Village, a Washington-based charity benefiting homeless women, with one of her patented “you get a caaaaar!” moments.

Winfrey, who was the keynote speaker at the Ritz-Carlton event Thursday, picked up a pledge card and filled it out in dramatic fashion: a promise of a $1 million donation.

The crowd, of course, went nuts.

“Everyone absolutely went wild,” says one attendee.

N Street Village Executive Director Schroeder Stribling joined Winfrey onstage, waving the many-zeroed card aloft.

The gift was no scripted stunt. Board member Allison Kaminsky Putala said organizers had no idea what was coming, and they were just as shocked as the crowd. “We are obviously beyond thrilled,” she said.

The organization has previously harnessed star power to help its mission of providing shelter and other services to homeless and low-income women – actor Richard Gere has pitched in on fundraising efforts, too.

On Thursday, Gere said he only came to realize how easily someone can end up “lost” and on the streets by playing a homeless man in his new film “Time Out of Mind.”

Gere screened the film to a small group of homeless people at a soup kitchen in Rome on Thursday ahead of a screening at the Taormina Film Festival. Gere said that only once he started filming, and was ignored as he begged for change on the streets of New York City, did he appreciate the reality of homelessness.

“It’s that fragile, the difference between us who have seemingly productive lives, and someone who ends up lost, a lost soul on the streets,” he said.


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