Episode 1: Every Second Counts
Who will give big and who will go home?
After each challenge, the judges will decide who to eliminate based on four criteria: creativity, leadership, presentation and accomplishment.
"It's hard to believe we only have five days to raise all this money to help her pay off her mortgage," Stephen says. "If she loses this house, she loses the entire support system that is really carrying her through this incredibly difficult time."
"It just means a lot for people to take the time to consider that people with disabilities are worth it," Karen says.
"Having positive role models is crucial for the success of the kids from this area," Eric says. "My purpose and my passion is to be exactly that—someone the kids can look at and say, 'Hey, I wouldn't mind having some of the qualities that he has.'"
"I've been in the military for ten years," Karl says. "What I'm mostly concerned about now is failing my family."
With a "better late than never" attitude, Marlene and Kim know Karl's family is depending on them and they refuse to let them down.
"What they've got is a half-baked fashion show. I can't really get the relevance in all that," Jamie says. "I think they're playing with fire."
Rachael convinces a local church, A Place Called Home, to host a fundraiser. She sings to the crowd and her enthusiasm, along with Angelo's encouragement, inspires the congregation to dig deep into their pockets, raising $14,000 in just 15 minutes.
"They were just giving and passing the baskets around," Angelo says. "From the pulpit, I could see that the baskets were filling up with money. They gave big!"
"We'd like to thank everybody for showing your support and your love to this incredible woman, AJ, and her two beautiful little girls," Eric tells the crowd. "But we also want to honor the spirit of an amazing guy, an amazing dad by the name of Tom."
Eric gets to the heart of the challenge when he suggests the girls write notes to their dad and put them in balloons, which will carry them all the way to heaven.
"It feels really good to know that I am somebody," Shante says. "I'm not just an invisible person, which is how I've felt since I've been in this homeless situation."
"We did this event at A Place Called Home, and now Shante has a place called home," Angelo says.
Kim also found a beach house for Karl and his family, with the first month's rent and utilities already paid off.
"My entire life has been about what's best for me, taking care of me," Kim says. "To know that instead of getting, I'm giving and making somebody else's life better, it makes me not want to take my own life for granted. There are people out there that are struggling, and it just takes one person to make a difference in their lives."
Karen says she is overwhelmed by the kindness of her community and realizes that is what makes life so priceless. "I was speechless," she says. "It was just unbelievable."
Even though the fashion show is a flop, the night proves worthwhile when actor Jamie Foxx calls to surprise Eric with a check for $50,000!
"Just the fact that somebody out there understands what you've been through, that was beyond awesome," Eric says.
Do you agree with the judges' decision?
Jamie says the decision to vote off Marlene certainly wasn't for her lack of enthusiasm. "Marlene was always a vision of excitement and goodness, and she's a wonderful person," he says. "But in the construct of a game show, she didn't get as much done as the others. It was the first week, so had she stayed on the second week, she would have."
Marlene says with another week she really could have shown what she was capable of. "If I could do this again, you just don't know," she says. "I've got so much energy."
Malaak and Erica invited some of their best friends, including celebrity pals like actress Holly Robinson Peete, fashion model Emme and network news couple Deborah Roberts and Al Roker.
Get ideas for throwing your own party!
To get everyone in the Big Give spirit, Malaak and Erica asked their guests to bring shoes to donate to New York's Henry Street Settlement for the homeless.
"We were so touched by having everyone come here in a simple act of kindness by bringing a pair of shoes to donate, that we wanted to be involved, too," he says. On behalf of Liz Claiborne, Tim, who serves as the company's chief creative officer, donated 500 pairs of shoes to the cause!
Malaak says the Big Give spirit truly shined at her party. "It was such a fantastic evening. I'm so excited about all the shoes that they donated," she says. "Thank you for watching the Big Give. And please keep on giving."
Shelley e-mailed us about her high school classmate whose family lost everything. "There was a fire in the middle of the night," Nate says. "They were barely able to get the kids out of the house."
The family is still without a home…but Shelley is on a mission to change that! Nate hands her $10,000 and tells her she has five days to make magic happen.
"This is your own Big Give," Nate tells Shelley. "I'll be checking back!"
"I love this book," Oprah says. "I love the feel of it. I love the texture of it. I love what's inside. I love the size of it. I love this book."
Jamie says the inspirations for Jools' Favorite Saturday Afternoon Pasta are his wife—after whom it's named—and the unusual pairing of ingredients like cinnamon, tuna, lemon, basil and chilies.
Not only is Cooking with Jamie full of wonderful recipes and time-saving cooking tips, it also supports a great cause. Jamie says he'll give all the money he makes from it to the Fifteen Foundation, which inspires and trains underprivileged kids for careers in food.
Special thanks to all those who helped during this episode of Oprah's Big Give