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Fashion Show to Benefit Sudanese Orphans
April 12, 2006

Models will take to the runway to benefit Sudanese orphans in the 2006 “Love First: Struttin’ to Heal the World” fashion show at Calvin College.

The show begins at 8 p.m. on May 6 in the Lab Theatre at Calvin. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12 and students with a valid ID.

Also, a donation basket will be passed during the show. All proceeds will benefit the Sudanese Christian School for Orphans.

“The whole night is a family night,” says junior Cheryl Brown, who with sophomore Jocelyn Jones is coordinating this second-annual event. “It’s not just a party for college students. You can bring your kids. You can relax, and it’s just a fun time.”

The 2006 Love First will not only be a multimedia event, like last year’s show, which donated $3,000 to Partners in Health for health care in Haiti.

It will also feature theatre, a reception, a party, dance lessons and a letter-writing opportunity.

This year, models, some children, will wear both clothing loaned from local stores and original designs from Brown, Calvin alumnus Emilee Pearce and designers from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

The show itself is designed to take the audience through an entire day of fashion, with summer, casual and hip hop categories. Slide images of streets from all over the world will serve as a backdrop for the models.

One highlight of the show, says Jones, is the “International Walk,” a parade of native costumes from an array of countries inspired by the fashion show that traditionally closes Rangeela, the annual international student variety show at Calvin.

“They didn’t do it this year, so this will be fun,” she says.

Another big moment comes in the final category, “Romancing the Streets,” which will spotlight the bridal gown that closes fashion shows around the world.

And a highlight from last year’s show is making a return. Audience members will be pulled from the crowd to become instant designers.

“We give them some fabric, pins and scissors, and within a certain period of time they have to come up with an outfit,” Jones says. (The on-the-spot couturiers will have ten minutes instead of the two they got last year to plan their ensembles and narrate while they are modeled, Brown adds, laughing.)

At one point in the show, Matthew Riak, the pastor of Sudanese Christ Lutheran Church, will take to the stage for a 15-minute talk about the current Sudanese situation and how the donated money will benefit the Sudanese Christian School for Orphans.

Riak will also be available for questions at the reception that immediately follows. That reception, also in the Lab Theatre, will feature world music, dancing, and dance lessons for those untrained in global Terpsichore. Children who attend the party will be invited to write letters to Sudanese children.

Brown says that last year’s “Love First” was so well-received that she’s been planning the Sudanese edition ever since.

“Last year, we did the show on Saturday. That Monday I had an e-mail in my box from the Multicultural Student Advisory Board,” Brown says. “It said we heard such wonderful things from your show, we’ve decided to fund you for next year.”

The show is also funded by the Social Justice Coalition, Tapestry and the Black Knights, a student group that fosters the relationship between African American and African Calvin students. The International Health and Development Club will be helping out at the event.

While the money collected will be sent directly to the Sudanese Christian School for Orphans, Brown hopes to deliver the children’s letters in person when she visits Sudan this summer with Riak and others.

“My goal is to help out with the churches in any way I can, “she says. Whether I’m helping with the kids or helping with English or mopping or doing any thing I can.”

Brown, who toured in the Calvin group which performed “Prayer for Sudan” hopes to collect the stories of Sudanese children to use in a drama program she started through the local Salvation Army.

“I want to get stories of the kids any way I can, and bring the stories back to students in the drama group, so next year we can go into different schools and churches and get the word out,” she says. “It’s not just Sudan that’s going through this. Now rebel forces have moved into Chad. It’s crazy.”

NOTE: Volunteers are needed for the upcoming show. For those who would like to work behind the scenes at “Love First: Struttin’ to Heal the World,” please e-mail Jocelyn Jones at

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson