Local dancers in ballet slippers will be helping the homeless get new pairs of shoes on March 2 in Parksville.
Qualicum Beach School of Dance (QBSD) is in its third year of supporting local causes with an annual dance performance, and this year has chosen to support ShuGuy Ministries — a local not-for-profit that provides new or gently used shoes to those without a home, and those who are trying to get off the streets and need special footwear for work.
“I’m just thrilled,” said Parksville resident Will Chambers, the founder and chairman of ShuGuy Ministries.
The idea for the charity came to him after getting a look at the shoes of a homeless man as he walked in front of Chambers’ car.
Calling them “the worst-looking shoes I’d ever seen,” Chambers bought the man a pair of new shoes, and later decided to do more by starting ShuGuy Ministries.
After three years, ShuGuy Ministries provides about 150 pairs of shoes a month on average.
“When (QBSD) called me I was just so overwhelmed,” said Chambers. “We can really use the support to support those who are desperately in need.”
QBSD’s owner and artistic director, Shari Selva, said she sent out an email to her dancers and their parents for suggestions on what charitable cause to support this year. In the past they’ve supported Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs and a local family with a medical emergency.
A suggestion to support ShuGuy Ministries was the first response she got.
“Obviously my students are pretty lucky,” said Selva. “Dance (classes) are a bit of a luxury that not everyone can afford, and if we do send our children for multiple dance classes a week, that involves hundreds of dollars of different types of shoes… I’d like to be able to teach my students a little bit about humanitarianism and giving back — sharing their talent with the community.
“There are lots of times in the year where we are fundraising for costumes and fundraising for festivals and dance shows and performances, so it’s just nice to give back to the community that supports us.”
At the charitable performance, Selva’s dancers will be performing a variety of styles as duets and in groups, including tap, contemporary and classical ballet.
Also participating are dancers from the Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet Company and Eclat Dance Youth Company.
The performance takes place at 7 p.m. at the Whalebone Theatre at Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville. Admission is $15 at the door, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to ShuGuy Ministries, said Selva.
There will also be a donation box for new and gently used shoes (fit for lots of outdoor use), as well as new socks. Cash donations will also be accepted.
Selva said she hopes the event can raise about $1,500 from admissions.