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Kids With Hearts For The Arts



 Annika Benander and Huck Borden are 15-year-old best friends who practically grew up in the Cape Fear Regional Theatre spotlight. They participated in summer camps, classes and whatever local shows were available … and they loved it.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the theater world came to a standstill. Suddenly, finding the means and the funds to do what they loved within new restrictions became much more complicated.

As a result, the youngsters decided to start a nonprofit organization called Kids With Hearts For The Arts. The group helps raise funds other local nonprofits that provide scholarships for children who cannot afford the expenses that go with participating in the arts. The money also goes toward helping the organization itself grow and continue to give back to the community.     

Huck’s mother, Malissa Borden, said that the idea came about in the car on the way to summer camp. She and her son and Annika were talking about the shock and sadness of the pandemic, as well as how sad it was that some children did not have accessibility to participate in the arts. An idea was born.

Since then, the teens have done a number of fundraisers, including a Facebook Live where they sang and played the piano, a virtual showcase where kids sent in their acts on video, and an in-person showcase at Gilbert Theater called “The Greatest Showcase Youth Variety Show” that involved 19 acts, ages 7-18. The two also have another fundraiser coming up at the Encore Center in Southern Pines that will feature 29 acts on Aug. 14-15. _ By Emerson Jackson