Natalie Perkins believes every child deserves a memorable birthday party – and she's determined to provide as many as she can.
Perkins, the owner of the newly-opened Bella ballerina in Leesburg, is donating $10,000 toward the effort for 10 children.
"We know that birthdays are the most special time of year for a kid. We hold birthday parties regularly here and families walk away absolutely loving them," Perkins said.
Perkins opened her Leesburg location in October. She owns a another location in Brambleton that opened in September 2011.
The studio offers ballet, jazz and tap lessons to children ages 18 months to 10 years old.
The 10 children to receive birthday parties will be chosen through a nomination process. Residents can email, call or write a letter to the business, telling Perkins and her staff why a child deserves a free birthday party.
"We want to make sure that that time is not something they miss out on that year," she said.
The parties are all-inclusive, with food, crafts, dance, dress-up, professional photography by Karen Smith and a visit from a fairy-tale themed character.
"Even with the themes themselves, we can customize them. If it's a boy they can do a royal prince theme," Perkins said.
The business also is offering a $1,000 scholarship that's funded by the two recitals the studios perform each year. The scholarship is open to Loudoun County seniors who are either dedicated to the performing arts or are planning on pursing an education in that field.
"This is the first spring we're giving one out," she said. "Next year, we're hoping for that to grow."
Perkins, a western New York native who has danced and taught most of her life, opened the Brambleton location after watching her young daughter participate in dance classes that didn't suit her needs.
"I felt like what was available at the time was kind of fast and loose, but they didn't really take anything away from it; or they were a very strict program. I wanted to do something in between where ultimately they take away something, but it's fun," she said.
The studio offers daycare programs in several Leesburg facilities as well where instructors teach inside the classrooms.
"We know working parents are a huge majority of who makes up our evening and weekend classes and they always fill up fast. We only have so much space in there so we figured we'll do you one better. We'll come to you," she said.
Perkins is hoping by giving away the birthday parties and a scholarship she can find her place in the Leesburg community.
"We are very community focused. We love getting into a community and just establishing ourselves but then really getting our fingers into what the community does too," she said.
To nominate a child for the birthday party give-away, visit facebook.com/birthdaygiveaway or http://www.bellaballerinia.com