Miley Cyrus has fielded a fair amount of controversy since she traded in her once-squeaky clean image and conduct for a more risqué look and headline-grabbing antics. But the performer did something at MTV’s Video Music Awards last night that is capturing attention for a very different reason.

Cyrus, who won video of the year for her song “Wrecking Ball,” decided to let a formerly homeless man named Jesse accept the award on her behalf.

The singer, who was in the audience at the award show, looked on with tears in her eyes as the young man took the stage in her place and briefly shared the plight of the poor in America.

My Friend’s Place representative Jesse (L) and singer Miley Cyrus attend the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Larry Busacca/MTV1415/Getty Images for MTV)

“Thank y’all, my name is Jesse and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now,” he said. “I know this because I am one of these people. Though I may have been invisible to you in the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight.”

Jesse also encouraged the audience and viewers watching the award show to go to Cyrus’ website and Facebook page, where donations can be made to My Friend’s Place, a Hollywood shelter for the homeless, the New York Daily News reported.

Watch the emotional acceptance speech below:

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Cyrus’ Facebook page notes that her efforts to help end youth homelessness are just beginning, but that she’s starting by helping My Friend’s Place and encouraging people to donate.

“For every $5 donation, you’ll be entered to win a trip for 2 to Brazil to hang out with me at my show in Rio de Janeiro on Sept 28th,” she wrote. “You’ll get the full VIP experience, including 2 of the best seats in the house.”

Last year, Cyrus was the focal point at the Video Music Awards, but for a very different reason. As you may recall, she performed in a scantily clad outfit, sparking a nationwide debate about the impact of her antics on young people.

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