People's Ball by Radhika Chalasani

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 18: Gaspard Dear (13) tries on a donated tuxedo for the People's Inaugural Ball January 18, 2009 celebrating Barack Obama becoming President of the U.S. The Dear family were invited to attend the festivities because of their volunteer work for the Red Cross and United Way. They hosted eighteen members of their extended for 9 months at their home in Raleigh, North Carolina after they were forced to leave New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. The Project, with an inaugural ball as the highlight,  was provided by Virginia businessman Earl W. Stafford and his non-profit Stafford Foundation, which together paid $1.6 million USD, so those who wouldn't normally have an opportunity to participate in the festivities would get a chance to celebrate. With the  help of non-profits and social service groups nationwide, including the National Urban League, some 300 people, among them the homeless, unemployed, war veterans, and those who have worked to help the less fortunate were brought to Washington D.C. to attend a specially organized ball, all-expenses paid at the JW Marriott  Hotel, a luxury  hotel near the White House.