Ellen DeGeneres Previews an Emotional ‘Greatest Night of Giveaways’

Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways - Season 1
Mike Rozman/NBC

Imagine the faces of the kids at Washington, D.C.’s Randle Highlands Elementary — where 65 percent of students are either homeless or in the foster care system — upon learning (from former First Lady Michelle Obama, no less) that they’re getting a mind-boggling amount of much-needed equipment for their school. Then imagine three hours’ worth of segments as joyous and exhilarating and emotional as that.

“This show highlights the best of who we can be. So, yes, there’s an unreasonable amount of crying,” host Ellen DeGeneres says of the three-night event Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways. In fact, she adds, you’ll need to prepare: “Stop what you’re doing and go get a box of Kleenex. No, two boxes. You know what, get a giant value pack!”

The tears are well-earned — DeGeneres surprises unsuspecting people in need with big-ticket items (a house! cash!) but also acts of do-gooding. Loved ones are reunited. A man gives back to the nurses and doctors who saved his life.

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“The people we found to help were simply unbelievable. Some have gone through devastating loss and pain but get through it with family, love and kindness,” she tells TV Guide Magazine. “It feels so good to give to people who truly deserve it.”

Robert Downey Jr. with Ellen DeGeneres (Credit: Mike Rozman/NBC)

She’s not doing it alone. Celebrity “elves” such as Robert Downey Jr., Aquaman‘s Jason Momoa and Melissa McCarthy assist with the giveaways in field segments. And in the studio, Justin Timberlake helps reveal to the audience — originally lured there by the prospect of seeing a (fake) one-woman show — the impressive goodies they’ll take home. Plus, says DeGeneres, often seen grooving on her daytime talk show: “I dance with Justin in a way you’ve never seen before.”

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In the end, having three nights of giving almost wasn’t enough, she says. “I was hoping NBC would supersize the episodes and let them each be six or seven hours long!”

Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 10–12, 8/7c, NBC