CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) – The Centre Stage Community Theatre's recent production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!” raised $700 to assist the Corning Community and Salvation Army Food Pantries.

Following the weekend performances at Sparkle, cast members invited audience members to donate money to the food pantries. On Thursday, “Angel of the Lord” actress Aubree Schwind and Centre Stage Community Theatre president Kimberly Canale gave the two area pantries $350 each.

“Since the play’s fictional Herdman family was dependent on social service organizations for food, we thought that a collection benefiting organizations that feed local families would be a thoughtful way of concluding our holiday performances,”  said Deacon Ray Defendorf, the play’s director. “So we stationed Aubree and other cast members at the exits with a sign and a collection basket.”

“Can you believe it? One person wrote out a check for $100, and gave it to me,” said Aubree Schwind, a 4th-grade student at Carder School who was performing in her first play. “In four shows we raised $700.”

Centre Stage Community Theatre has held twice-yearly plays and occasional variety shows and comedy specials over 10 years. The group also sponsors a week-long theatre camp for young people every summer in cooperation with the Corning Library.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!” was the organization's first product featuring a large cast of elementary and middle school students.

“Everyone was impressed with the wonderful young talent, many of whom were experiencing their first time ever on stage,” said Kimberly Canale, who directs the annual camp. “Many had their lines memorized by the second or third practice, which in my experience of over ten years working with adults was a very pleasant and helpful surprise. We may just have to do another show with kids next year.”