Sandy Ridge Elementary group gets permission for special fundraiser

WAXHAW – Madison Warren is ready to do her best Rebecca impersonation – complete with the burgundy dress and curly brown hair employed by the American Girl doll in thousands of girls’ bedrooms across the country.

Madison (left) and Miranda (right) pose with their sister, Milaina, and their American Girl dolls. The resemblance will come in handy when Madison hits the stage for the upcoming fashion show.

Madison is one of around 70 girls who lined up for a shot at strolling down the runway as part of an American Girl Fashion Show. The event is a tough show to book, with only a handful taking place across the country each year. The popular American Girl doll company uses the events as fundraisers for various groups in need, as well as to get their products out into the market, and will be bringing a show to south Charlotte this April to help Sandy Ridge Elementary School, in Waxhaw.

So what is an American Girl doll, for those without a young daughter at home? They’re a collection of dolls that each represent a different time period in American history. There’s Caroline, a brave girl who grew up in the War of 1812; Kit and Ruthie grew up making ends meet in the Great Depression; Addy escaped slavery with her mother in hopes of finding her father and brother.

Madison will be showing off Rebecca Rubin, a Russian-Jewish immigrant from the 1940s who has found a new home in New York City. The two are teamed up partly because they look alike, thanks to Madison’s curly brown hair. But Madison also has a Rebecca doll at home, so she’s excited about acting the part of her friend in the big show.

“We’re going to have an American Girl doll that looks like us, and we’ll dress like them and walk down the stage like the models do,” Madison said. She got her Rebecca doll in kindergarten, and is now a fourth-grader at Sandy Ridge. Her sister, Miranda, has the Caroline doll.

“I really love American Girl dolls,” Madison said, when asked why she auditioned for a role in the fashion show. “I really want to have the experience of being a model.”

Girls like Madison will walk down the stage with their doll before heading back behind the curtain for a wardrobe change – dolls have multiple outfits, of course – and then another turn on the runway.

“We had more than I could have imagined audition,” said Beth Warren, Madison’s mom, who is volunteering for the event. She had to take photos and measurements of all the girls to see who would fit best in the pre-sized outfits being sent to Charlotte from American Girl. But all the girls will get some role, Warren said. “I couldn’t tell a single one of them ‘No.’”

“We were blown away,” added Valerie Secker, a volunteer for the event and member of the school’s parent-teacher group. “The American Girl coordinator could not believe the turnout we had for the model call. I could hardly open the door into the audition room there were so many girls.”

Dolls and outfits won’t be for sale at the event, though there are some raffles taking place. How Sandy Ridge can make money through the show is from ticket sales, and organizers are hoping to sell 1,300 of those to sell out five different shows at the Levine Jewish Community Center’s Sam Lerner Center, 5007 Providence Road.

“We have a potential to raise a lot of money,” Secker said. Sandy Ridge needs as much as $20,000 for new books, cash for security improvements on campus and as much as $70,000 to put two new computers in each classroom. Secker knows they won’t get all that money through just one fundraiser, but organizers hope to make a dent in that total.

Tickets to the shows, on April 13 and 14, are $40 each. Tickets went on sale this week. There also will be raffles for girl-themed treats, like pedicure packages, and bigger raffles for American Girl accessories and a trip to the American Girl store in Chicago. Some money from the event will go toward the Union County Education Foundation.

Girls will start having rehearsals after school in February. They’ll hear the music they’ll be walking on stage to, be shown how to hold the doll and taught how to walk gracefully. A team of mothers will wait backstage to help change girls, and dolls, into their next outfits. There will be 29 dolls in all on display in multiple wardrobes.

Find more information on the event and purchase tickets at the event website, www.americangirlfashionshowclt.com.

Sandy Ridge will be involved in another upcoming fundraiser, this time with a number of other schools in western Union County.

The Run for the Ridge 5K and Fun Run will take place March 23 at 8 a.m. at Marvin Ridge High School, 2825 Crane Road, in Waxhaw. Funds raised at the event will benefit Sandy Ridge as well as Marvin and Rea View elementary schools and Marvin Ridge middle and high schools. People can sign up for teams to take part in the 5K and fun run, or just enter raffles or buy from vendors at the event.

Sandy Ridge Principal Croffut and Vice Principal Yetter will dress up as characters from the popular Angry Birds games if Sandy Ridge has the highest percentage of people taking part in the upcoming event. The two then will run through a student-led obstacle course, dodging water balloons and pool noodles, according to Secker.

Find more information on the 5K at www.marvinrunfortheridge.com.

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