Fits like a glove 'Detroit 1-8-7' alumna teams with firm to give back to city

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By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News

Even though she was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, actress Erin Cummings -- best known as Dr. Abbey Ward on ABC's late, lamented police drama "Detroit 1-8-7" -- has a special place in her heart for the Motor City.

"I noticed in Detroit that people are proud of this city and they have a lot to be proud of. Detroit has an incredibly rich history in this country and is a city that has been beaten up... but I see that fighting spirit everyday when I talk to citizens who are either old enough to remember when Detroit was great or people who heard stories about that time and they really want to make it so again. There's something so infectious about that 'let's pick ourselves back up' spirit. I think it needs to be encouraged," explained Cummings, who lived in Birmingham during her time on last year's critically-praised "1-8-7," the first television series to be set and filmed in Detroit.

On October 23, Cummings will be appearing in a three-episode guest arc on the ABC period drama "Pan Am," starring Christina Ricci. Cummings will be playing a character named Ginny Sadler.

"She is a brassy, sassy, sexy woman who is unconventionally intelligent in that she loves crossword puzzles and was a drag race queen in Iowa. She wears fur coats in the summer and happens to be the mistress of the vice-president of Pan Am, but she's also having an affair with Pan Am pilot Dean Lowrey (Mike Vogel). She's lots of fun, but her actions end up getting her into a lot of trouble -- as we can only imagine. Ginny will show the audience a little bit different side of Dean -- he can be a bit of a bad boy if he wants to be," she said.

Besides acting, Cummings is deeply passionate about helping the less fortunate. Last year, Cummings established the winter charity Mittens for Detroit after she and her cousin Kathi Moss, of Southfield, handed out candy the day before on Halloween. It was then they saw a little girl missing a glove.

"Kathi gave her a spare pair of gloves she had," said Cummings. "It made me realize how easy and simple and -- quite frankly -- inexpensive it is to be generous. And in a city like Detroit that has given so much back to me and my '1-8-7' family, I really wanted to be able to do something that would help out the community a little bit."

She continued, "With Mittens for Detroit, it became so easy for people. They didn't have to reach into their pockets too deep. All they had to do was find a drop-off location, find a pair of gloves that you can buy for $1, and drop them in. It's really turned out to be something that's very special for me and for a lot of people involved."

Last year, about 10,000 gloves were donated through Mittens for Detroit. Cummings' goal for this year is 20,000. Mittens for Detroit is now a 501(c)3 charity, operating under the fiscal sponsorship of the North Woodward Community Foundation.

"We've already reached out to some of our wonderful supporters from last year, including Quicken Loans, who has already expressed their support and is interested in joining forces with us again, Just Baked Cupcakes, American Company Island. We are now bringing in Trott & Trott on board. They reached out to us and are going to get some of their employees involved and do a collection at their offices, which they're excited about," said Cummings.

Trott & Trott is a law firm based in Farmington Hills, specializing in real estate law. It has a reputation for giving back to the community, particularly to the following charities: Toys for Tots, Gleaners Food Bank, Special Olympics Michigan, On My Own of Michigan, the American Red Cross, and the University of Michigan in Washington Program.

"We're always looking to support new and different causes," said Roy Sexton, vice president of Marketing and Strategic Planning for Trott & Trott. "Each year, we work with four charities, and it is our goal to vary the initiatives. For example, in 2011, we have participated in Relay for Life, supported the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, and partnered with Starfish Family Services for a well-rounded approach to giving back."

Sexton expressed his excitement about working with Cummings and her charity.

"Erin has really been great throughout the planning process," Sexton said. "We are quite a large group, and she has been extremely accommodating, particularly with the two volunteer dates we've coordinated. She'll even be attending one to meet our employees and discuss how Mittens for Detroit came about. We really admire what she has done with this program and the national attention she has helped bring to Metro Detroit and the generous folks who live here."

He continued, "Mittens for Detroit is fulfilling a critical need in and around Detroit. In our cold, long Michigan winters, it is so important to keep those in need warm. Though a pair of mittens may seem like a small thing, the warmth they provide will give a sense of comfort to men, women, and children in Metro Detroit. And people going through rough times also just need to know that there are others out there who care and want to help in any way we can. This is a great program, and we hope that our involvement will inspire others to take part!"

Financial donations are currently being accepted on the charity's website. Drop-off locations for those donating gloves will be announced on the website on November 1.

"Now because we're a 501(c)3, we can accept financial donations and take that money and turn it around where we can actually purchase gloves at wholesale prices and have them delivered straight to the charity, so that we can streamline our efforts and be a lot more efficient and effective," said Cummings.

For further information or to donate, go to (www.mittensfordetroit.com).

Published: Thu, Oct 20, 2011

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