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December 21, 2004

Actors’ Equity’s Stephen J. Falat Basket Project Brings Holiday Joy To New York Area Hospitals, Charities

2700 Gift Bags Delivered by Dozens of Volunteers and Students

Volunteer Councillor Hal Blankenship

The 19th Annual Stephen J. Falat Holiday Basket Project was a huge success. Over 2700 holiday gift bags, including almost 900 for children, were delivered to numerous area hospitals and charities by dozens of dedicated volunteers and a special group of students from Slocum Skewes School (Ridgefield, NJ).

Equity Regional Vice President Arne Gundersen, who is chair of Equity’s Falat Basket Project Committee, thanked the volunteers and acknowledged the efforts of Dianne Eyerman and The Harmony (Barry Manilow) Fan Club, which does ongoing fundraising for the project, and teachers Roseanne Abate and Darren Gold from the Ridgefield, NJ school district. “As always, everyone pitched in and did a great job,” said Arne. “I would also like to acknowledge the support of many Equity Councillors and staff members, including Anne Fortuno, Assistant to President Patrick Quinn. I’d also like to thank Greg Kayne, and all of our volunteers.”

Some of the organizations that receive baskets this year include: Argus Community Access Program, The Actors’ Fund Aurora Residence, Bailey-Holt House, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the NYC Minority Task Force on AIDS, St. Vincent’s Midtown (formerly St. Clare’s Hospital), St. Mary’s Center, Stony Brook Pediatrics AIDS Center, the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Center and the Manhattan V.A. Hospital.

The mission began in 1985 when actor Stephen J. Falat visited a handful of patients at St. Luke’s Hospital, donating Christmas baskets supplied through his own generosity. The next year, he organized the project through Actors’ Equity Association and donated 150 baskets to other AIDS charities. The project now has dozens of volunteers and is an annual event.

Falat passed away from complications from AIDs in 1991, and the Basket Project has been proudly continued in his memory. Members of Equity’s Stephen J. Falat Basket Project Committee are Arne Gundersen, Chair; Austin Colyer, Jeanne Lehman, Maureen Moore, and Jean-Paul Richard.

Noting that next year will be the Basket Projects’ 20th Anniversary, Arne added, “let’s hope that the number of baskets will dwindle some day, when we finally conquer AIDS.”

A special thanks to this year’s volunteers:

Sam Altman, Richard Barth, Joanne Borts, Ron Brown, Billy Crystal, Crandall Diehl, Jenn Dumas, Margaret A. Flanagan, Bob Frischi, Samantha Greene, Bill Janson, Tod Jackson, Greg Kayne, Randall Kellogg, Gabrielle Lee, Jean Lee, Christine Lemme, Teak Lewis, Peter Linari, Ben McLaughlin and Anthony Morelli, Anthony Paccione, William J. Powers, Shirley Rich, Bob Schear, Ali Sheraf, Deborah Jean Templin, John V. Fahey, Mark Wellen, Sandra Westin, and others !

Students and teachers from Slocum Skewes School (Ridgefield NJ) also pitched in

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