In 2008, Stratford Thespians started a tradition of circulating black buckets at the end of each performance. They modeled their fundraising after the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS program in NYC. Created by The Actors Fund in 1987, BC/ EFA sprung from the theater community’s public outcry to a raging epidemic for which there was not a cure. BC/EFA expanded to include women’s health issues, food services, and meal programs offered to families facing a variety of challenges and much more.
In 2008, during rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz, a tornado in a nearby state made the news. The students realized the irony of a moment where the theatre world reflected the real world. Wanting to help in some way, the Black Bucket tradition began. Each night, one of the students closed the show with a presentation about the fundraiser and asked the audience to be generous on their way out. Students, waiting at the theater exits, collected donations in black buckets. Over $4,000 raised by the Playhouse during the run of the show was donated to the American Red Cross to help the recent tornado victims.
The tradition continued in 2009 during Barnum, by raising $7,000 for the Children’s Play Area at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. In 2010, the Playhouse performed Steel Pier, a musical that features an abused woman, and donated $4,400 to the Houston Area Women’s Center.
In 2011, the Playhouse performed Damn Yankees, and joined Craig Biggio and the Houston Astros in supporting The Sunshine Kids Foundation with a donation. The first weekend of the show went well and the students raised a substantial amount for The Sunshine Kids. Then, during opening weekend, Stratford soccer coach Chris Matthews died suddenly, leaving behind three children and his wife and SHS teacher, Buffie. The Playhouse decided to raise funds for Coach Matthews family during the remaining shows. In all, the students raised $11,842 over nine performances, donating $6,749 for the Matthew family and $5,093 for The Sunshine Kids. WOW – those were some generous theater-goers!
In 2012, the Playhouse presented The Will Rogers Follies. The students decided to support a program that Mr. Rogers would be proud to say he helped — the prevention of child abuse and shaken-baby syndrome. After the show closed, the students donated just over $5000 to support The Child Protection Team at Texas Children’s Hospital.
This year, the Stratford Playhouse selected two charities to honor with audience contributions. Both charities are important to our cast and community:
The first weekend, the Black Bucket Drive raised $4,600 for The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). JDRF was formed in 1970 by parents of children with diabetes. They understood that managing Type 1 Diabetes was not the answer. Insulin is not a cure. Type 1 Diabetes strikes children and adults suddenly, making them insulin dependent for life and placing them at risk of developing devastating complications. Three million Americans have Type 1, the most severe form of the disease. You can't outgrow juvenile diabetes. The only way out is a cure. JDRF is the world's leading nongovernmental funder of diabetes research. Since it’s founding, JDRF has awarded more than $1.4 billion to diabetes research. More than 85 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and research-related education. We are dedicated to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.
The Crazy For You Lead Actor, Graham Baker, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was in fifth grade. For over seven years, he has managed his blood sugar levels (checking it up to six times per day), counted the carbohydrates he intakes, and administered insulin through injections or more recently through an insulin pump. Graham remains optimistic there is a cure in his lifetime and hopes for the support of the Stratford community.
The second weekend, the Black Bucket Drive raised $6,400 for Texas Children's Pediatric Cancer Research honoring Charlie's Angels and Charlie Dina. Charlie Dina, a four year old, in the Stratford Community, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma. Charlie’s quest for prayers and a cure were brought into the national spot light when 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel discussed Charlie’s journey and Manziel’s commitment to Charlie in a Heisman Trophy story. Manziel wears a yellow bracelet reading Charlie’s Angels Philippians 4:13. Manziel became Charlie’s favorite football player during the A&M and LSU game.
Charlie has gone through five rounds of chemotherapy, an 18-hour operation, a removed kidney, more surgery, removal of another cancerous tumor, and 12 days of radiation therapy. He is in the middle of a stem cell transplant - his last stage of treatment. Through bracelet and t shirt distribution, the Dina family has raised awareness, raised monies for neuroblastoma research and cure, and brought many from across the nation in prayer for Charlie.
Stratford Playhouse is honored to support both of these charities through their Black Bucket contributions.
Stratford Playhouse Troupe #2215 Black Bucket Contributions
Year Amount Organization
2008 $4,000 American Red Cross
2009 $7,000 Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital
2010 $4,400 Houston Area Women's Shelter
2011 $5,093 Sunshine Kids Foundation
2011 $6,749 Chris Matthew Family
2012 $5,000 Texas Children's Hospital
2013 $6,400 Texas Children's Pediatric Cancer Research (Charlie Dina)
2013 $4,600 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation