Dance students collect nearly 600 cans

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

While most children in Shelby County were exchanging and receiving gifts during the 2010 Christmas season, students at an Alabaster dance studio chose to instead focus on those who were less fortunate than them.

Shortly before Christmas, students at the Corky Bell School of Dance off Fourth Place in Alabaster used the time they normally would have used to exchange gifts to donate 580 canned food goods to the Pelham-based Oak Mountain Missions Ministries.

The food drive was a departure from the Christmas charity project the studio has conducted for the past few years.

“Every year for the past five years, we have supported some kind of charity,” said Corky Bell Office Administrator Brenda Johnson, an Alabaster resident. “The past three years, we sent care packages to soldiers in Iraq.

“Now that we have come home from Iraq, I started making some inquiries as to who really needed food donations,” Johnson added.

Johnson’s research led her to Oak Mountain Missions, which works to help those in need in the Birmingham metropolitan area. Through its programs, Oak Mountain Missions provides food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance to those facing dire situations.

“This mission really seems to be doing the most for the community,” Johnson said.

Once the instructors at the dance school explained the non-profit organization’s mission to their students, the children immediately began donating hundreds of items to the food drive.

“They were so excited. We had a contest to see which class could collect the most cans,” Johnson said. “I had the teachers explain to the younger kids that not every child goes to sleep with a full tummy.

“We told them how important it is for everyone to have food, especially during Christmas,” she added.