NEWARK, NJ — Livingston residents Abby Heltzer and Dani Pritikin, along with Short Hills resident Allie Benjamin, have recently continued a charitable endeavor they began last year called “Kostumes for Kids,” where the three young dancers collect costumes, shoes, and accessories to be donated to the Newark School of the Arts (NSA).
The trio of competitive hip hop, ballet and jazz dancers, all longtime students at Michele’s Dance Studio, know firsthand how a costume can instill confidence in a young performer as well as how expensive those costumes can be.
Last year, the three young women collected and donated more than 200 items by asking fellow dancers to bring gently used costumes to their annual recital, which is typically held in May.
Although the recital was postponed this year due to the pandemic, Heltzer, Pritikin and Benjamin were determined to continue helping NSA students and organized an online Mother’s Day plant sale in order to raise funds toward a scholarship fund for NSA students.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this project and organization,” said Pritikin. “It’s so nice to be able to give back to the dance community, especially during these tough times. I’m glad we could make a difference.”
The three 17-year-olds ultimately raised more than $600 by selling more than 100 begonias that they potted, gift-wrapped and personally delivered to area residents on Mother’s Day morning.
“The Kostumes for Kids Dance Scholarship will provide access for two students to study for one year,” said Carmen Santos-Robson, Assistant Director/Development Director at NSA, adding that the school’s mission is to provide equitable access for anyone who wants to participate regardless of talent or the ability to pay. “That is why the school offers financial aid and scholarships for people with demonstrated need. Last year, the school awarded $123,477 in scholarships and financial aid alone.”
Over the last six decades, NSA has served 50,000 students, providing education music, dance, arts, drama and media/computer technologies. Up to 750 students of all ages study weekly at NSA, where they are given the opportunity to perform and to cultivate their artistic talents.
Although virtual classes are currently being offered to NSA students, the school’s largest fundraiser, “Tomorrow’s Stars Tonight,” has also been postponed due to the health crisis. NSA is currently seeking support for its student scholarships, which are awarded annually to students who “demonstrate talent and motivation to advance to higher levels of achievement,” according to the NSA website.