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Posted December 20, 2005

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

2900 Gift Bags Delivered by Dozens of Volunteers and Students

The 20th Annual Stephen J. Falat Holiday Basket Project was a huge success. Over 2900 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 Middle School (Ridgefield, NJ).

Falat Basket Project volunteers loaded packages donated by TOYS R US

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 Jackie Zloty 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) as well as 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.

Special thanks to Toys R Us Times Square and to this year’s volunteers:
Ronald L. Brown, Anita Flanagan, Greg Kayne, Teak Lewis, Helen McMahon, Ben McLaughlin, Kevin Meyers, Lawrence Merritt, Anthony Morelli, Tony Paccione.

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