Don MacKechnie presents donation to Patti Smallwood.
Photo provided by Art Kilmer
For over 10 years it’s been a tradition at Essex Community Players to donate the proceeds from the intermission refreshments to a local charity. Recently, the tradition was repeated as Vice President Don MacKechnie presented a check for $917.40 to Patti Smallwood of Essex Meals on Wheels. Patti, Kitchen Staff Manager and Karen Hershberg, Progam Administrator, impressed Don and fellow Essex Players associate Art Kilmer with the breath of work done by the non-profit. 125 volunteers deliver 40,000 meals annually, offering hot meals 5 days a week, and providing re-heatables for weekends, reaching out beyond Essex as far as Richmond. Patti was deeply involved slicing portions of homemade meatloaf to be packaged for delivery. “All I had to do was follow the delicious smell to find the kitchen” quipped Art. Don commented “Over the last several years Essex Players have averaged around $1,400 in annual donations to local charities. But the one from this year’s holiday show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was one of the largest. The Players typically run four productions per year and to our knowledge, we are the only local theater company that donates to other non-profits.” It all started several years ago when then president Brett Thompson came up with the idea to add a holiday show to the calendar and offer a ticket discount to everyone who brought a can good for the food shelf. Since then it’s evolved to asking patrons for a free will offering for refreshments. Since all the refreshments are made by volunteers or donated by local grocers, all proceeds are profit which are passed directly on to the charity. Art, who directed this year’s holiday production “A Charlie Brown Christmas” said “we were fortunate to have a very popular show which drew large audiences and put them in a giving Christmas spirit. That coupled with the well-known good work done by Essex Meals on Wheels encouraged patrons to dig deep.