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December 01, 2003

"Wicked" Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel Kick Off Actors' Equity's 18th Annual Stephen J. Falat Basket Project

Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel
photo by Walter McBride/RETNA

Holiday Gift Baskets Go To New York Area Hospitals, AIDS Hospices and Other Charities

Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, the stars of WICKED, Broadway's newest hit musical, take time out backstage at the Gershwin Theatre to support the annual Stephen J. Falat Holiday Basket Project of Actors' Equity Association.

Since 1986, volunteers organized by the Project Committee have delivered holiday gift baskets (large, colorful shopping bags) filled with clothing, CDs, candy, toiletries and more, to local New York hospitals and AIDS organizations, to brighten the holidays of people living with AIDS. All merchandise is new and has been donated by corporations as well as individuals.

This year, over 2500 baskets will be delivered to more than 20 hospitals, AIDS hospices, pediatric AIDS centers and HIV community services in the New York metropolitan area.

The mission started 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 has grown to 2500 baskets.

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.

Volunteers and donations are needed! For further information, call Anne Fortuno, Project Coordinator and Assistant to the President, at 212-869-8530 ext 409.

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