Columbus, Ohio—Columbus drag performers Nina and Virginia West raised more than $16,000 for Besa during their annual Christmas show.

Nina and Virginia Save Christmas, performed at Axis, included six performances Dec. 9 to Dec. 18. Guests were invited to donate to Besa at the end of each show to help fund projects that will improve the lives of thousands throughout 2017.

“The support from Nina and Virginia, the cast and crew, and the audience is beyond heartwarming,” said Besa Executive Director Matthew Goldstein. “They are all dedicated to raising this city up, and they’re doing it. In this time and in this place, it’s exactly what we need in the world.”

Through Besa, the money raised will make roughly $50,000 in community impact. Here are highlights of what the money will provide:

• 250,000 diapers packed for needy families

• 1,000 individuals and families served meals at a local homeless shelter

• Hand-made blankets for 250 foster children

Andrew Levitt, the 38-year-old who performs as Nina West, said this is the first year they have raised money for a single charity over the course of all six Christmas show performances. It’s the most money the Christmas show has raised since its 2003 inception.

“Besa is committed to different aspects of our community, so when you give to them, you’re not just servicing one organization,” Levitt said. “They do more than 300 service projects in a given year. One could be at the Ronald McDonald House. One could be with at-risk LGBTQ teens. The work that’s being done is tremendous.”

Virginia West is a nationally celebrated drag performer who has been delighting audiences in Columbus and around the country for nearly 20 years. She has been the catalyst for expanding the Columbus drag scene, inspiring many, including Nina West, to join. Nina is also a nationally recognized drag performer and comedian who has been performing for more than 15 years. Together, Virginia and Nina have raised more than $1.5 million for charity during their performances.

Besa is a Columbus nonprofit dedicated to supporting those who need it most by connecting people and businesses with local charities, from food pantries to homeless shelters. Besa offers a portal at www.givebesa.org where Columbus residents can easily find and register for volunteer opportunities citywide; it hosts drives for various nonprofits; and it helps corporate partners manage and enhance their philanthropic efforts. For more, visit www.givebesa.org.

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