Media release

Rhode Island Foundation commits $60,000 in matching grants to help the Food Bank and Trinity Rep weather COVID-19 crisis

Funding will make up for the loss of donations to the Food Bank that Trinity Rep traditionally collects from audiences during live performances of A Christmas Carol

The Rhode Island Foundation is matching every donation the public makes to Trinity Repertory Company from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve with an equal grant to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, up to a total of $60,000. This philanthropic partnership replaces fundraising for the Food Bank that Trinity Rep does every year during live performances of A Christmas Carol at the theater.

Since 2006, the actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge has stepped forward at the end of every performance of A Christmas Carol and asked the audience to make a donation to the Food Bank. Last year, the audience dropped more than $60,000 in collection buckets for the Food Bank, which brought total giving to over $667,500 since the tradition began 15 seasons ago.

With Trinity producing a free, online production of the holiday classic this year because live performances had to be canceled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the theater was keenly aware of how the loss of those contributions could impact the Food Bank and sought a solution that would allow continued support for its partner organization.

The announcement comes as the Food Bank’s 2020 Status Report on Hunger reports that one in four households in Rhode Island lacks adequate food as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commitment from the Foundation benefits two nonprofits that have been deeply impacted by the pandemic – the Food Bank because of unprecedented demand for its services, and the theater because of the lack of ticket revenue caused by public health restrictions on in-person performances.

“The impact of COVID-19 is being felt everywhere. The state’s food pantries and meal sites are faced with an immense increase in need from hungry Rhode Islanders. Arts organizations that depend on ticket sales are struggling to cope with the loss of live performances. Our matching grants will enable people to double the impact of their donation to Trinity Rep," said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

“We’re so grateful that Trinity Rep and the Food Bank are able to continue their annual Christmas Carol fundraising campaign thanks to the Rhode Island Foundation,” said Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff. “Now more than ever, support to both organizations is critical as we weather the storm through COVID-19…together.”

“At its heart, A Christmas Carol is a story of community, love, hope, acceptance, and redemption,” said Trinity Rep Executive Director Tom Parrish. “We are so pleased that this valued and popular holiday tradition will continue, through its free digital form, to inspire generosity and support for both the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Trinity Rep thanks to this unique partnership and matching opportunity with the Rhode Island Foundation.”

Trinity Rep’s free, on-demand production of A Christmas Carol Online will stream Dec. 17 through Jan. 10. Access to the video is free, but registration is required at Donations can be made during the registration process or while watching the video; those received between Thanksgiving and New Year’s will count toward the Foundation’s matching grant campaign.

About the Rhode Island Community Food Bank

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has been distributing food to 68,000 struggling Rhode Islanders each month through a statewide network of 159 member agencies including food pantries, meal sites, shelters, emergency distribution programs, and senior centers. This year, the Food Bank distributed 13.8 million pounds of food. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

Trinity Repertory Company

Rhode Island’s Tony Award-winning theater, Trinity Rep has created unparalleled professional theater for and with its community since its founding in 1963. Trinity Rep strives to facilitate human connection and has been a driving force behind the creativity that fuels and defines the region for more than 50 years.

Trinity Rep is committed to reinventing the public square and inspiring dialogue by creating emotionally-stimulating live productions that range from classical to contemporary and innovative education programs for all ages and abilities. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol has brought families together for more than four decades and made memories for over a million audience members.

Rhode Island Foundation

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising, and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.