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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Dance show collects food donations for local charity

Twirling and pliéing, UF students danced this weekend to help provide food for people in Alachua County.

Floridance, a student-run dance group at UF, performed "Don't Stop the Music," a dance recital, Saturday night at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The show was free, but students who attended were encouraged to bring nonperishable goods to benefit the Compassion and Action Pantry, a part of the Catholic Charities of Gainesville.

Julie Nelson, the publicity director of Floridance and a UF accounting junior, estimated more than 650 pounds of food were donated to the charity from about 750 people in attendance this year.

The Compassion and Action Pantry is a place where people in need can go for food to feed their family for three to four days, said Ray Milligan, the community outreach coordinator for Catholic Charities of Gainesville.

"It is a place for people who are hungry - an emergency pantry," Milligan said.

Floridance has donated more to the pantry than any other student organization, he said.

Nelson said this is the second time the group donated to the charity.

Last year, Nelson said, Floridance donated more than 500 pounds of food and ,500 to the charity.

Milligan said the food from Floridance was used to serve needy people for two weeks.

Food insecurity, a term to describe a time when a person is not getting enough nutrients, is an issue Floridance wants to raise awareness about, Nelson said.

She noted that one out of five families in Alachua County suffers from food insecurity.

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"Things don't go as well for everyone as everyone would like," Milligan said.

"Students' ability to help others demonstrates a compassion for their fellow human beings, who may not be as fortunate as they are," Milligan said.

Christina Walker, president of Floridance and a UF integrative biology senior, said she was excited to show the dancers' hard work.

The group spent about 150 hours preparing for the show, which featured 16 different performances, including hip-hop, ballet, modern, jazz and tap.

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