Buncie Hay Lanners, the Executive Director of the Arts Association in Newton County, wasn't expecting a grass roots fundraising effort, but that's exactly what she got after a parents' meeting was held at the beginning of September.
The artistic directors of the Covington Regional Ballet, which is fully funded by the arts association and its sponsors, told the parents they needed $7,000 to replace the Waltz of the Flowers costumes. These costumes are featured in their annual ballet, "The Nutcracker."
Dory Berry, a Covington Regional Ballet junior company member, was listening in at that parent meeting. The 11-year-old approached Lanners after the meeting and said, "I make duct tape bows, and I want to help raise the money for the costumes."
Lanners had no idea just how serious Dory Berry was about raising money by making hair bows.
The idea for "Bows for Ballet" was born that night.
Berry, a sixth-grader at The Newton County Theme School at Ficquett, had been crafting with duct tape for a few months when she and her best friend got together and made "random stuff" one day, including a wallet, a purse and, of course, a hair bow. She started selling them for a $1 to friends at school and ballet class and had earned $70 in just a few weeks.
At a concert on the square, the junior company sold all kinds of crafts and baked goods to help raise money. The hair bows kept selling like hotcakes. The girls wanted to raise $450, enough money for one costume.
They presented Lanners with $438.36 on Sept. 10.
"We've tried seeking funding on a grass roots level, from our parents and concert goers, during the recession. These girls understand this," said Lanners.
Dory says that even though the money isn't for costumes she will wear, she felt committed to raising the money.
"We're like a family and we need to support one another and that means buying these flower costumes," Dory said.
The bows Dory makes come in a variety of colors and patterns. She comes up with the designs on her own and has developed an order form for special orders and priced the bows to sell. A hair band with a bow is $1. A clippie or headbands are $2 each. She'll even apply lettering to these waterproof creations for an additional dollar.
Dory's mother, Jami said she was proud of her daughter.
"Life is so crazy for kids now. They get caught up in doing and being. Most of them don't have a cause."
Jami and Dory also like that making bows gives them an opportunity to spend time together. They can sit around the kitchen table at night and work while visiting with Dory's younger sister, Mia, and her dad, Frank Berry.
"But you have to be careful, "Jami warns. "The tough thing about duct tape is once you fold it over and it gets a wrinkle in it, it just gets worse. Duct tape is super adhesive."
Meanwhile, the orders keep pouring in, which is fine by Dory. She's set a new goal to raise the next $450 by herself. She's raised $76 so far.
Dory will be selling bows at Antiques and Stuff on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. and at Ficquett theme school's Fall Festival on Oct. 8. The bows are also available at the arts association office on Washington Street.
Bows for Ballet is on Facebook and can be reached at email@example.com for orders.
"[This effort] has invigorated me more than anything in the last 10 years," said Lanners. "There's no stopping us as an organization in terms of what we can do in this community."