Ten Years of Giving Back to the D.C. Community: The Ford's Theatre "A Christmas Carol" Donation Drive

One favorite tradition in my 10 years working for Ford’s is watching how our staff, crew, cast and audiences make an impact in our D.C. community through a special donation drive during A Christmas Carol. Every holiday season, the company of A Christmas Carol votes to support a different non-profit that serves the homeless, hungry and impoverished. At the end of the performance run, the raised funds go directly to the selected charity.

Craig Wallace (Scrooge) and the young actor company of "A Christmas Carol" (2017). They stand on stage near a 2-story Christmas tree.
Photo of Craig Wallace and the 2017 young company of "A Christmas Carol." Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Since 2009, we have raised an incredible $735,000 for local non-profits with these curtain call collections. And counting! I love how this tradition brings to life the themes of goodwill, generosity and benevolence found in Dickens’s 175-year-old play. This year, join us in celebrating the good work of The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project by giving at our performances through December 30, 2018.

But first, let’s reflect on how these simple efforts have made a very meaningful difference in the lives of the thousands living in need within our immediate community.

Each year I am inspired by the extraordinary generosity of our patrons and the enthusiasm of the Christmas Carol cast and crew to make this charity drive happen. I know our audiences have helped secure a happier new year for many low-income and homeless families and individuals.

Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault
The 2009 cast of "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre stand in costume on stage. Lead actor Edward Gero is shown presenting a giant check to Bread for the City for $32,000.
The first year of our donation drive, the "A Christmas Carol" company collected on behalf of Bread for the City and presented their staff with a giant check at a performance. Photo by Gary Erskine.

The first year of the donation drive, 2009, Ford’s partnered with Bread for the City and raised more than $50,000, which helped the non-profit provide 1,846 meals to D.C. families.

When we partnered with So Others Might Eat (SOME) in fall 2010, government reports showed D.C. had 6,000 homeless residents with 110,000 children living in poverty.

SOME President Fr. John Adams reported that the funds raised would “help SOME to continue to provide 1,000 daily meals, clothing, medical care and other services to the poor and homeless in Washington.”

The more than 200 homeless and low-income men, women and children who walk through our doors each day feel the impact of this outpouring of generosity in the form of nutritious meals, hot showers, clean clothes, access to computers, legal aid, job training, employment support and other specialized support. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the Ford’s Theatre and the cast, crew, staff and audiences of A Christmas Carol for making such an incredibly impactful donation.

Thrive DC Executive Director Alicia Horton (2014 Recipient)
The 2016 cast of "A Christmas Carol" stand on stage in costume with staff from Food & Friends and a giant check for more than $88,000.
Our 2016 company collected for Food & Friends, raising more than $88,000. Photo by Carolina Dulcey.

In 2016, funds raised through Ford’s performances made it possible for Food & Friends to provide specialized nutrition and meal delivery services to their clients who confront life-challenging illnesses. Food & Friends Executive Director Craig Shniderman wrote to us that year saying, “Seeing the talented cast raise money and share the mission of Food & Friends from the stage has been a highlight of the year. We are incredibly grateful and honored to receive this generous support from Ford’s Theatre Society and the broader community.” 

Our cast finds this tradition especially meaningful:

"When the ghost of Jacob Marley visits Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley pleads, ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business.’ Scrooge has gone too long shutting the world out and living with indifference. Scrooge’s transformation reminds us that it never too late to feel compassion for others. Just by hearing this warning we remember the places in our own lives where we can be more considerate toward others.” – Craig Wallace, Ebenezer Scrooge in the Ford’s Theatre production

Scrooge: “Why do spirits walk the earth, and why do they come to me?”

 

Jacob Marley: “It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death.  It is doomed to wander through the world and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth and turned to happiness!”

From A Christmas Carol

“This exchange is the beginning of the Redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge and the story. Scrooge’s nephew’s idea that we should all ‘think of people below us as fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys’ is as relevant today as it was in 1843. It is an honor and a privilege to share this inspiring story with our audiences at Ford’s Theatre every holiday season and to also offer them the gift of giving to a worthy local charity. – Stephen F. Schmidt, Jacob Marley in the Ford’s Theatre production

The 2017 company of "A Christmas Carol" present a giant check to House of Ruth at Ford's Theatre.
The 2017 Ford's Theatre "A Christmas Carol" company presented House of Ruth with a check for more than $96,000. Photo by Carolina Dulcey.

This past season (2017) Ford’s raised more than $96,000 for House of Ruth. House of Ruth Executive Director Sandra Jackson reminds us, “The holiday season is a time of great celebration and enormous need. The women and children survivors of homelessness and domestic violence at House of Ruth are deeply grateful for the generosity of the cast, crew and audiences of Ford’s Theatre. You are changing hundreds of lives and bringing A Christmas Carol to life.”

Join us in giving back this holiday season. To quote Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us, Every one!”

Lauren Beyea is Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford’s Theatre, where she oversees media relations. She is editor of the Ford’s Theatre Blog. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBeyea.