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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Kennison Horsley, center, dances with local dancers in a surprise \"Flash Mob\" at Gardner Village in West Jordan on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011.
The flash mob event was the kickoff to a fundraising competition between area dance studios that will culminate with a big dance competition in the spring with other nationally ranked studios and dancers.

MIDVALE — In front of a sign that read, "Will dance for food," hundreds of kids — and even a few adults — joined in a "flash mob" Saturday to help raise money for the Utah Food Bank. The event was organized by the newly formed Will Dance for Kids Project — a locally based organization created to raise funds for children’s charities through dance and dance competitions.

The 300-person flash mob was staged at Gardner Village and was the first fundraising effort for the group, according to director and founder Penny Broussard.

"(The WDFK kids) are learning to share their talents to make a difference for other kids," she explained. "It's important for these kids to help other kids."

The flash mob event was the kickoff to a fundraising competition between area dance studios that will culminate with a big dance competition in the spring with other nationally ranked studios and dancers.

To participate, each child donated five dollars to the Utah Food Bank, which will go toward helping the group reach its ultimate objective.

"Our goal is to raise $10,000 for the food bank," Broussard said.

That money translates into $70,000 worth of food and services because the food bank is able to multiply the effect of those donations through its vast assistance network, according to Jeanette Bott, chief marketing officer for the Utah Food Bank.

"This kind of environment is incredible for kids to learn that kids their age are going without," Bott said. "Kids could combine a passion — which they have for dance — and a goal for acquiring money or food … and understand that there is someone out there who needs the help and will benefit from their efforts."

An event like this "helps the kids realize how blessed they are to have dance in their lives," said Cicily Oldham, an instructor at Utah Dance Artists. "Not everybody gets the opportunity … to come everyday and have fun. It's a chance for them to give back."

Dance student Paris Matthews, 13, said she was grateful to participate in such a "great charity event."

"We can all try to help out and help someone else," she said.

Bott said that 42 percent of the people that the food bank helps are children. Utah is a state with large families and the holidays are a time when those families are really in need of help, she said.

"It's very important that families are able to go to a food pantry and know that they will have help from an agency," she said. "These kind of events will make sure that families have a great holiday." 

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com