Actress Sharon Stone helps serve meals to 1,000 at Convention Center

Sunday, December 26 1993

Alisa Wabnik
The Arizona Daily Star

For most of the diners at yesterday's Salvation Army Christmas dinner, the only "basic instinct" that mattered was getting something to eat.

But that didn't mean they weren't wowed by actress Sharon Stone, who stepped out of her sultry "Basic Instinct" movie role, donned an apron and helped serve about 1,000 people a free meal.

"She touched my hand. Can you believe it?" asked Roland Maxwell, 31, a construction worker who has been out of work for three of the last five months.

"She's a really nice woman. That made my day."

Stone is best known for her sexy film scenes. But yesterday she slipped into the dining room at the Tucson Convention Center without fanfare, wearing a plaid shirt and jeans beneath her white Salvation Army apron.

Stone declined requests for interviews. But a spokesman for Tri-Star Pictures said she is spending about three months in Tucson filming a new movie and wanted to contribute to the community by volunteering.

Stone, who once worked as a waitress, juggled pitchers of coffee and punch as she moved between tables and chatted with guests.

She lingered at one table where 5-year-old Valerie Salcedo was refusing to eat her turkey.

"I just thought she was coming over to be polite and nice, coming to talk to my kids like any other normal person," said Maria Salcedo, Valerie's mother, who at first did not recognize the actress. Stone later posed for a picture with the family.

Justin Alvarez, 18, knew who Stone was right away. But like the media, Alvarez did not get to speak with the star.

"I saw her over there talking with a little kid," he said. "It made me want to be 5 again. It really did."

About 300 volunteers worked at yesterday's dinner, which was attended by about 300 fewer people than last year's event, said Billy Joe Varney, the convention center director.

He said nice weather and the availability of other free dinners in town might have reduced this year's attendance.

Across town, at TD's Show Club West, a free dinner drew its biggest crowd in six years, said Tony Dellheim, one of the dinner's sponsors.

The club served between 1,500 and 1,800 free meals yesterday, compared with 900 last year, Dellheim said. He said the increase occurred because he and the club's employees spent the last two months visiting homeless shelters, nursing homes, trailer parks and other locations to publicize the event.

Dellheim said that about 50 people had spontaneously offered to help cook or serve food. Another 150 volunteers were employees, their friends and families.

"I've had just a ton of people come in off the street, saying, `I don't have anything to do today. Can I come and help out?"' Dellheim said.

Vanessa White, a Salvation Army volunteer, said it was Stone's service, not her fame, that attracted fans yesterday.

"People are not interested in it (the celebrity status)," White said. "They're interested in getting off the streets, getting something to eat, and having a merry Christmas."