Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Day With Rihanna and Jim Parsons benefiting Minnie's Food Pantry

Jim Parsons and Rihanna at the red carpet premiere of HOME in Plano  |  Photo by Thomas Garza for

My head is still reeling from the craziness of the last 24 hours.  On Monday, I published a post about Cheryl "Action" Jackson - the angel behind Minnie’s Food Pantry (MFP), a family-run nonprofit that has fed 4 million meals to the Plano community. She found out last week that she had won the "Good Morning America Brings 'Home' to Your Hometown" contest. The prize? A red carpet premiere of the new animated film HOME and a visit from two of the films stars. On March 17, Rihanna and Jim Parsons flew into town and spent the afternoon at MFP with Jackson before heading over to the movie premiere. So, where do I fit into all of this? I got a frantic call from one of Cheryl's friends on Monday night asking if I would be willing to spend the day with Cheryl and help her with her social media for the day. Obviously, she was going to be busy being the star of the show and wouldn't be able to post things for herself, but wanted Minnie's Food Pantry to benefit from the live tweeting/posting. I thought about it for a mili-second and said, "Duh! I am so in!".

Rihanna pledges funds to Minnie's Food Pantry
Every news station in town was camped outside of Minnie's Food Pantry to film the stars arrival but no one was allowed inside the facility for their visit, so I had exclusive access to not only these two mega-stars but was privy to their emotional tour of the place. It was so chaotic and crazy that I will just share some of the highlights with you:

After seeing Cheryl on GMA, an anonymous donor had made a very generous donation to MFP. Cheryl was so excited to show Rihanna and Jim how they had used the funds to stock the pantry with fresh fruits and veggies, milk and cheese and real bacon for their families. Turns out that "anonymous" donor was Rihanna and towards the end of their tour of the facility she was so impressed that she pledged even more money to continue to support their work to feel the hungry of North Texas.

Cheryl gave them a tour of MFP and at one point showed them how volunteers make boxes for their families. They formed an assembly line and started filling boxes. It got fasted and faster and when Jim started tossing things in, Cheryl said, "Hold up, Jim! Is that how they do it at your grocery store? Presentation is everything!". Parsons sheepishly said, "Yes m'am. You are right" and off they went again. At the end of that exercise, a representative from the city of Plano presented Cheryl with a plaque and declared it "Minnie's Food Pantry Day" for the City. Part of her contest win had been a commitment from DreamWorks to fund 25,000 meals. Jim Parsons made Cheryl do the ugly cry when he told her that they were stepping up to donate 25,000 more. She hollered even louder when he told her that Entertainment Tonight was going to fly her out to Hollywood for the premiere there to be their special correspondent on the red carpet.

Rihanna clearly has a soft spot for children. She touched or hugged very kid on the room, even planting kisses on Cheryl's toddler grandson. At the screening later that evening, she noticed that one of the photographer's next to me had her son with her and called him onto the red carpet for a photo, (much to the delight of his Mother).

At the end of the tour, Cheryl had them sign the MFP wall and pledge to join Minnie's Team as the room chanted the organizations motto, "If you can't feed a hundred, feed just one!" When it was Parsons turn to sign, someone in the room started singing the Warm Kitty song from Big Band Theory and the whole room joined in singing, "Soft kitty, Warm kitty, Little ball of fur, Happy kitty, Sleepy kitty, Purr, purr, purr.". Parsons then turned to Rihanna and said, "See Rihanna, I have a song too." to which the whole room erupted in laughter. Click here to see video from today's GMA on their visit.

Cheryl was then whisked off to film a segment for a new Bravo show that was there filming. All I could glean about that was that a production company is working on a new show about stylists and Star Shop had dressed Cheryl for the day and they were filming a "scene" where they discussed her red carpet options. You know I will be looking more into that... I then hopped in my car and zoomed over to the Cinemark Theater for the red carpet premier. I stood alongside Extra and Entertainment tonight and we elbowed for position. To see the amazing photos that my photographer Thomas Garza got, click the link to go to Facebook and view the album from the red carpet premiere of HOME from DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox.

You know I couldn't resist a selfie opportunity. Bazinga.