TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The pandemic left some students with tutu much time on their hands. But Tampa Bay native Alexandra de Roos, a student at the The School of American Ballet in New York City, used her free time to create a charitable organization that gives young people access to dance education.
Alexandra’s parents enrolled her in dance before she was 3-years-old, in an effort to strengthen her bones and muscles. She was competing in competitions by age 5.
“Because I was involved in dance at such a young age, I had to learn time management skills and organizational skills. It taught me the value of hard work,” Alexandra said.
As a young dancer, Alexandra realized some of her friends and classmates who wanted to dance, were dropping out of classes, due to family finances.
“Dance enhances your life in so many ways, that so many other ways can’t,” said Alexandra. “So for it to be cost prohibitive is kinda heartbreaking.”
She pointed to studies that show children who participate in dance perform better in STEM subjects, and explained that while not all children will grow up to make dance their profession, as she hopes to, the skills they learn while cultivating a passion, and the joy they receive by participating in the performing art of dance, is priceless.
At 8-years-old, Alexandra began collecting and donating gently used dance-wear, in an effort she called “Peace, Love, Leotards.”
Now, at 17, she’s made her childhood effort official.
Peace, Love, Leotards is now a 501c3 non-profit..
Since April Alexandra’s secured backing from seven dance-wear companies donate items for Peace, Love, Leotards to distribute. Two corporate sponsors are on board, donating funding to the project.
Tampa Bay retailers offer reduced-price or free items to Alexandra.
Boys and girls who request dance-wear fill out a form on Peace, Love, Leotards’ website, which Alexandra manages.
She learns more about the type of dance each child is involved in, and of course their sizes, and digs through her stock to find what the dancer needs. If she doesn’t have just the right thing on hand, she makes a request to a dance-wear company, or visits a retailer to find the proper gear. Then, she packages up the items and ships it.
Alexandra is also tasks with providing tax receipts to donors. Since becoming a 501c3, Peace, Love, Leotards has donated $2,000 in dance-wear, collected $5,200 in-kind dance-wear donations and $2,500 in cash donations through PayPal.
Alexandra also created an Ambassador and Junior Ambassador system for young dancers who would like to help her charitable effort.
“The ambassador program is for ages 8 and up. That might seem a little young, but that’s when I started, so I thought, hey that’s great,” she said.
Alexandra also pointed out one of her newest ambassadors lives in Singapore, making Peace, Love, Leotards a global effort.
In addition to contributing to individual dancers, Peace, Love, Leotards recently began partnering with Title 1 schools, which have arts education programs, but less access to resources.
“It’s an easy way to make a big change, because it’s a school class. That could mean dozens of children could be impacted by the arts, because I wanted to give them dance-wear,” Alexandra explained.
For her efforts, Alexandra’s Peace, Love, Leotards was recognized with the President’s Certified Volunteer Service Award, an honor she plans to pay forward.
“Bridging the socioeconomic gap has been the main goal of Peace Love Leotards and I’ve truly seen what the effects of dance can do and I want to bring that to every child.”
To request dance-wear, make a donation or learn about Alexandra’s ambassador and junior ambassador programs, visit PeaceLoveLeotards.com.