Gellar's New Role: From Slayer to Angel

10/15/2003 AT 01:05 PM EDT

Former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in a new role in Manhattan late last week, taking center stage at the Angel Orensanz Foundation gala to help raise money and awareness in the battle against breast cancer.

Outfitted in what the New York Observer described as a slinky low-cut brown satin dress and a $11,000 Mikimoto pearl necklace, Gellar, exclaimed, "You can come take it off me!" (She meant the jewelry, not the dress.)

"But wait!" she cautioned as the men in the audience chuckled at her offer. "You have to pay for it first!"

The auction, held as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, benefited the Young Survival Coalition, an international non-profit group for those under 40 who battle breast cancer.

Several survivors of the disease were in the audience of the gala, as was proved when Gellar asked them to identify themselves by a show of hands.

"When I was playing Buffy," the actress told the crowd, "women were always telling me that I inspired them. And looking at you all, for the first time ever, I know how that feels. You inspire me."

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