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'We come together as a family:' Local mom feeds thousands of student dancers at the Straz Center

Posted at 8:34 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 09:43:17-05

TAMPA, Fla. — She says she's "just a mom" but Kim Bolton helps feed thousands of student dancers at the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory, including a huge cast party for the Nutcracker each year.

Fifteen years ago, Bolton helped move some chairs at a ballet master class.

“That’s how I started helping,” she says. “I never stopped.”

Bolton is now a volunteering dynamo at the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory.

She’s had children at the prestigious dance school. But in her eyes, everyone is family.

Because so many student dancers, and their families, don’t have the typical social lives, Kim considers it her job to create a feeling of togetherness.

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So she feeds people — a lot of people, at big parties and dinners she puts together.

“It’s not just the kids working hard,” she says. “It’s families sacrificing. Families separated from home.”

From cakes and candy stations, to delicious sprawling Nutcracker cast dinners, Bolton has fed thousands of dancers over the years.

She’s orchestrated a hard-working team of volunteers just as committed to creating a warm atmosphere.

Together, they comfort families who are far from home, displaced by the dancer’s life.

“A lot of kids don’t go to prom,” says Bolton. “They don’t go to football games. So this gives them a sense of belonging.”