Over the last 27 years, the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (HASK), located at 28th St. and 9th Ave. in Manhattan, has served more than seven million hot nutritious meals to those in need.
Even when the church suffered a devastating fire in 1990, it still found a way to continue serving all who came to its doors every weekday, including holidays. From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., anyone is welcome – no questions asked and no strings attached.
But just as with other food programs throughout the nation, the recession has taken its toll. While the number of people needing food continues to grow, funding sources continue to plunge. Hence, the idea of an annual Christmas Spectacular to benefit the soup kitchen was born, the brainchild of Holy Apostles parishioner, Gary Morse.
On Dec. 16, well over a hundred people packed the church for this festive event that began with a silent auction in which attendees could select the perfect holiday gift for a loved one (or themselves) while socializing and enjoying delicious refreshments.
Then it was on to the entertainment. Among the featured artists was funny lady and actress Susan Campanaro, who appeared in “The Sopranos.” Decked out as her nightclub persona Lavinia Draper, she not only fulfilled the duties as the evening’s hostess, but brought down the house with her rendition of “Santa Baby” sung beguilingly to Sal, the tap dancing Santa.
Another huge crowd pleaser was Eddie Allen and the Jazzy Brass. Allen’s original arrangements of holiday favorites performed by this outstanding six-member brass band had everyone nodding their heads and tapping their toes. One Latin number proved so irresistible that many audience members leapt to their feet and formed a joyous conga line.
Commenting on why it meant so much to him personally to volunteer his talent that evening was the band’s french hornist, Mark Taylor, who has family roots in the Caribbean. “There are a lot of things you can give money to, but finding a way to do something concrete that will actually help somebody seems more difficult,” he stated. “Especially as a musician, when you perform for people you are giving a certain kind of a gift above and beyond the time and energy expended,” he continued. “I think that makes it a more special contribution than just sending a check.”
On hand, too, were the noted Broadway actor Michael Cumpsty and Thomas Cahill, author of A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green. They read selections from W.H. Auden’s classic Christmas poem “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio,” and C.S. Lewis’ satirical essay “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus.”
The audience was also treated to a performance of “Hard Candy Christmas” from the Broadway hit “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” sung by Barbara Ann Davison, joined by Linda Gibson and Marcia Wallace, as well as a Stephen Sondheim number from “Follies,” sung by Will Trice, Elizabeth Clinard, Nicole Halton and William Ferguson. And, of course, what church gala would be complete without a performance by the Sunday School children? Joined by Gary Morse with Julia Kramer on piano, they sang Lennon and Ono’s “Happy Christmas.”
Rounding out the evening’s entertainment was John Grammer’s rendition of Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto K. 622” and Jon Froehlich’s madcap performance from Plautus’ play “Menaechmi.” Michael Rice was the evening’s piano accompanist.
With Lucy Sexton in charge of the silent auction and Diane Wondisford directing the performances, the Christmas Spectacular brought in more than $15,000. Every dollar will help ensure that HASK continues as a much-needed symbol of hope and a place of humanity, compassion, and dignity in the Chelsea area.
To learn more about the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, to make a contribution or volunteer, please visit www.holyapostlesnyc.org or call (212) 924-0167.