Locally-made tutus helping raise money for hungry children

Dance instructor tackles hunger

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - This isn't your typical ballet class.

These future ballerinas are learning more than just a lesson in dance -- they're also learning how to save lives by helping kids around the world through the organization Feed My Starving Children.

"Just the change that these packs make for these little kids and these people who don't have food just inspired me to raise as much as I could and to donate and to buy meals," said Melinda Thomas, a preschool dance teacher at the Dance Centre in Rocky River.

For the past eight years she's made tutus by hand and donated the proceeds to the organization. Feed My Starving Children has helped feed children in more than 70 countries around the world with more than 600 million packed meals.

Thomas said the price of one tutu provides 60 meals to children in need.

"Doing this with especially this age of kids, it opens their eyes to generosity and what that means. And to kind of have them look past themselves -- there's a whole new world out there and things we take for granted every day," she said.

Parent Natali Rini said Thomas makes tutus all year long.

"(She's) always thinking of how she can make the lives of other children better," Rini said.

It takes Thomas about 90 minutes to make each tutu. They cost $15.