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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: FARBER FAMILY

For more than five years, the Farber family of Bridgewater, NJ have been making a difference together. But their now-treasured family tradition of volunteering for Broadway Cares started by happenstance.

"We just happened to be at a Broadway show during collections for the Easter Bonnet Competition back in 2007," explained family patriarch Stuart Farber. "We heard the actors ask for donations and that's when my daughter Deanna asked about volunteering."

At the time, Deanna Farber was a 12-year-old theatre aficionado searching for the right project for her Bat Mitzvah. Volunteering for Broadway Cares was an ideal fit.

"I had told Deanna she should choose a project that she could stick with for years to come," Stuart said. "She ended up finding a cause that has affected our whole family in such a positive way."

Deanna started her volunteering with seasonal collections – assisting participating Broadway shows by holding a bucket at theatre exits during BC/EFA's twice-a-year fundraising efforts. But her work didn't stop there.

"I created a webpage where my friends could make donations to Broadway Cares," Deanna said. "Before I knew it, there were over $1,000 in donations. It was fantastic! My sister Kayla and my mom helped out, too. It got so big that I made BC/EFA the theme for the Bat Mitzvah."

Stuart said that once he and his wife, Debbie, saw how involved Deanna was getting, "We all jumped in."

For the Bat Mitzvah, the family worked with BC/EFA Producer and Volunteer Coordinator Scott T. Stevens to create an unforgettable celebration.

Deanna asked staff at the hotel where her reception was being held to wear red ribbons for one month and placed BC/EFA information at the front desk. She also used old Playbill covers and Broadway Cares bumper stickers to create a donation table. Deanna even included BC/EFA's mission in her speech to guests – all of whom also received a red ribbon.

After the Bat Mitzvah, the Farbers wanted to do even more. Now, in addition to the seasonal theatre collections, the family comes to New York City to volunteer for the annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction and Broadway Barks events.

Stuart said that volunteering makes the family feel like a part of the Broadway community.

"The actors are all such great people and we love that they appreciate the volunteers," Stuart said. "One night at Jersey Boys, Taylor Sternberg (an actor in the show) ran over to us at the theatre and made us feel so welcome. He tried to get Kayla to sing. She wouldn't so he turned to me and taught me how to sing 'Can't Take My Eyes Off of You' like Frankie. We all got such a kick out of it."

The experience has helped illuminate for the Farbers that everyone can, indeed, make a difference.

"We see things from a different point of view now," Stuart said. "We know it's tough out there for everyone. Broadway Cares is trying to help so many. We see all these shows and know there are so many actors who may need some help, too. These people take us into their world. They give us so much every night, so it's only right to give back."

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