How Dancing with the Local Stars helps me give back to my community

This is part of the series Shore Stories: Life Along the Lakeshore columns by local residents about their lives.

Life is full of exaggerations. We’re all guilty of proclaiming them: I’m as hungry as a bear. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. I’m starving.

No harm, no foul, because, after all, they’re just exaggerations. 

But that last one gets to me because it’s not an exaggeration for everyone. 

So, I choose not to say it and I correct my children when they do because we’re fortunate to have a refrigerator full of food and a warm, healthy dinner each night. 

However, 1 in 4 children in the United States isn’t as lucky, according to Feeding America. That means six children in my son’s classroom may not know where they’ll get their next meal. My daughter is in middle school, so I shudder to think how many of her classmates may face hunger.

Moved to action

The numbers are stunning. They take my breath away and do more than just make me choose my words carefully. They ignite action to help make a difference. 

I’m fortunate to live in a community that cares deeply and was pleased to personally step up in a significant way in 2016, when I first participated in Dancing with the Local Stars (DWTLS). The annual event is put on by the Muskegon Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce to raise money and awareness for local food pantries and programs while local celebrities twirl around a dance floor. 

That year, we raised $135,000, and I was hooked. I joined the organization that August and soon became its publicity chairwoman, sharing our efforts and commitment to the community via social media and with the media.

I joined because community has always been important to me. And not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also so my children can see firsthand all the good that can be accomplished when you work together for the benefit of others in your own backyard.

Children lending a hand

My children are catching on, and I couldn’t be prouder.

They’ve enjoyed lending a hand to pack Thanksgiving meals for hungry families. They’ve sold lemonade at the end of our driveway, donating their hard-earned money to local food pantries of their choice. They’ve shoveled a neighbor’s driveway, only taking a generous tip on the condition that it would be donated on Giving Tuesday to the Meijer Simply Give program to benefit the Muskegon Rescue Mission. 

And they’ve loved attending DWTLS. Who doesn’t?

Obviously, the global pandemic had plans of its own. Although it’s made an impact on so many — especially food pantries that work diligently to feed hungry families — it also brought out a renewed sense of community and the need to think outside the box for the good of others.

The show goes on

So, while the elaborate, in-person production of DWTLS was canceled, the WDCC obviously couldn’t let those food pantries down. The beloved community event has raised more than $1.2 million since 2009, so the organization vowed: “The show must go on.” 

And it has … very creatively!
  • It attracted sponsors.
  • Collected spare change at local businesses through CANisters in the Community.
  • Placed 10 giant soup cans — 55-gallon drums, to be exact — around the community to area businesses and homes, requiring a donation to have them removed through the You’ve Been CANned! challenge.
  • And it tapped into the TikTok craze, encouraging anyone in the community to submit a short dance video for a fundraising competition. More than a dozen videos were submitted to, where voting will end March 10. Each vote costs $1. Check it out and vote for your favorite team.

There were so many opportunities to get involved, and you better believe my family and I were doing our part. A few of our neighbors chipped in when we were CANned, and I didn’t hesitate to grab my dancing shoes when a friend asked me to participate on her dance team. 

It felt good to be part of something bigger after a year rife with challenges.

After all, it is true what they say … we CAN make a difference! And that’s not an exaggeration.

Christina Fecher is a longtime resident of Muskegon, where she lives with her husband and two children. She works in corporate communications and serves as the publicity chair of the Muskegon Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce.
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