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December 19, 2003

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

2700 Gift Bags Delivered by Dozens of Volunteers

The 18th annual Stephen J. Falat Holiday Basket Project was a huge success. Over 2700 holiday gift bags, including 820 for children, were delivered to numerous area hospitals and charities by dozens of volunteers.

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 Barry Manilow Fan Club, which does ongoing fundraising for the project. "As always, everyone pitched in and did a great job," said Arne. Students from local NJ schools also participated.

Some of the organizations that receive baskets this year include: The Actors' Fund Aurora Residence, Bailey-Holtz House, Beth Israel Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the NYC Minority Task Force on AIDS St. Vincent's Midtown (formerly St. Clare's Hospital), St. Vincent's Downtown, Stony Brook Pediatrics AIDS Center, the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Center and the Manhattan Veterans Hospital. A number of other charities, day care centers, residences and non-profit organizations also received baskets.

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.

For more information, contact Anne Fortuno at 212-869-8530 ext 409.

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