By Caitlin Howle
For 12 years, there’s been a unique ending to A Christmas Carol performances at Trinity Rep. At the curtain call, Scrooge steps forward and asks the audience to donate to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. This tradition began in 2006, when artistic director Curt Columbus arrived in Providence. While touring the Rhode Island Food Bank, his husband Nate Watson suggested tying food bank collections to A Christmas Carol. Why not provide an opportunity to live Scrooge’s lesson of compassion and charity?
Last season, A Christmas Carol audiences gave over $65,000 — the highest single year total, to date, to the Food Bank, and over the past decade, they’ve contributed more than $400,000. During Curt’s time as artistic director, this tradition has been an important link between Trinity Rep and its home. As Curt explains, “A strong Rhode Island community is the basis for a strong Trinity Rep.” This relationship not only helps Rhode Islanders in need, but reminds audiences to bring the spirit of A Christmas Carol into their lives and to the rest of Rhode Island. “With every dollar that’s donated, we buy three pounds of food,” says Hugh Minor, director of communications. That means that last year alone, Trinity Rep audiences contributed over 195,000 pounds of food to the state.
The Rhode Island Community Food Bank serves over 57,000 people every month, from Westerly to Woonsocket, with 155 food pantries serving food to all agencies. The goal of the Food Bank is to provide some of the healthiest foods that they can, so snacks and soda are not distributed but other foods like tuna and those with protein-rich nutrients are made a priority.
The organization has been around since 1982 when a dedicated group of volunteers came together to start the pantry. Hugh continues by saying, “We want to thank the audience members at Trinity Rep, they are a very critical part of our success. We appreciate that people take the time to make a donation because every bit helps. A dollar, a check, it all goes to buying food and helping the life of a Rhode Islander in need.”