When dancers with the CK Dance Theatre in Olive Branch step lively and show their dancing skills, the youngsters dance because they love to do that, and they are giving back to the community at the same time.
The dance studio, owned by Cristina and Kristian Kelly, holds recitals each spring as a finale for their year. Dancers and tumblers raise money for their programs by selling tickets. The proceeds from the ticket sales are then donated to a local non-profit charity.
Five recitals were held this spring. The Kellys last week presented a check for $8,000 to their selected non-profit for the year, the DeSoto County Dream Center, based in Horn Lake.
Cristina Kelly said the end-of-year recital fundraisers are just a part of the community service opportunities the faith-based studio is involved in.
Kelly said the Dream Center was chosen because of the many outreach programs it has undertaken. The Dream Center is a resource center to DeSoto County’s population living at or below the poverty level, and those who are medically uninsured. The facility houses the Trinity Health Center and DeSoto Grace.
Most notably, the Dream Center in the past year held food distributions in Olive Branch and in Horn Lake that attracted thousands in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Going out in the county to find those in need, instead of just waiting for the needy to come to them, is what impressed Kelly the most.
“I thought this was a great organization to donate to, because of your actions to find the people, instead of just waiting for the people to come to you,” Kelly said. “It was that passion and saying, ‘We’re going to do something. I don’t know where the people are that are going to need this but they’re going to come to us.’ That’s how we chose you guys.”
Directors Lee and Audrey Smith note that about 11 percent of the county’s population is at, or below, the poverty level, and 17 percent of the county is medically uninsured. The Dream Center is a cooperative fellowship that includes local churches and non-profit compassion ministries.
“Our motto here is ‘Dream Again,’” said Lee Smith. “We’re always telling our community that you can ‘dream again.’”
Audrey Smith added that the Dream Center wants to continue to meet those needs, both by inviting people to come to them, but also to go out and reach out to the community.
“Yes, we want to bring people to the Dream Center to see it and tell them about it, but we’ve got to go to them,” Audrey Smith said, who added a majority of the funds from the CK Dance Theatre donation will go to the center’s clothing ministry.
The Dream Center plans to hold a Block Party Kick Off on Saturday, July 24, at Latimer Lakes Park in Horn Lake, an event originally scheduled for July 17, but one that was postponed because of threatening weather. Hours are from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and will continue each Saturday morning at the park.