Reading to benefit food shelf

David Hoppe practices reading “A Christmas Carol” at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. A group of community members will hold a reading of the book at 7 p.m. Thursday.

There will be a public reading of “A Christmas Carol” at Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The 90-minute event is free to attend, as it is a fundraiser for Heaven’s Table Food Shelf.

Peter Engstrom, a volunteer at Heaven’s Table, had the idea of putting on a fundraiser to give some extra support to the food shelf. Engstrom said he had read an essay about “A Christmas Carol” that spoke of how Dickens did public readings. Engstrom thought it sounded like a possible idea.

In order for the reading to take place, community members were asked to volunteer. Ten community members will read. They are: David Adams, Tony Fink, John Heille, David Hoppe, Carole Rudig, Jacob Taylor, Lee Trunkenbolz, Margo Weaver, Annika Wheeler and Liz Wheeler.

Three members of the Fairmont High School orchestra — Eric Head, Whitney Scott and Abby Tonder — will assist with music.

“A Christmas Carol” was written by Charles Dickens. The first edition was published on Dec. 19, 1843. About two years later, Dickens performed a public reading of his book, something he continued until the time of his death. Engstrom said public readings of the book are less common now, yet many people are probably familiar with the story because it has been adapted for film, stage, opera and other media.

Those participating in the reading have met to practice about a dozen times since October. They were asked about their interest.

“I like to read,” said Taylor, a student at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Fairmont.

He said his class is actually reading the book in school right now.

“I found out about it from a flyer at the library and I thought it sounded like fun and I am having fun here,” Hoppe said.

Those who are reading said they are somewhat familiar with “A Christmas Carol” in one way or another.

“Listening to the story is much different than the other media we have been familiarized to about ‘A Christmas Carol,'” Adams said. “We are working on perfecting the phrasing so that the audience can let their imagery of the scene unfold before them.”

Engstrom noted that Thrivent Financial provided $250 for the production that is being used for refreshments, programs and some radio advertisements that are expected to start playing soon.

The purpose of the reading is to help support Heaven’s Table Food Shelf at 909 Winnebago Ave. in Fairmont. The food shelf began operations in 2011 to help with the hunger needs of Martin County.

The food shelf runs the Backpack Program at several area schools. It sends home backpacks filled with food that is easy for children to fix themselves. The program continues to grow and serves hundreds of area children. The food shelf also provides food to nearly 100 seniors through its NAPS program.

The food shelf is able to continue its mission through generous community donations and with the help of more than 200 volunteers. Any money collected in the form of donations during the reading Thursday will go to Heaven’s Table.