Effort collects dresses for high school teens
Movie star Katherine Heigl had 27 bridesmaid’s dresses. Jenny High is way ahead of her.
High, a Henrico County mother, has more than 250 prom dresses. She doesn’t plan on keeping these dresses tucked away in a closet.
The donated new and gently-used dresses along with shoes, accessories and men’s suits and tuxedoes will help make prom night special for about 200 students.
Hermitage High School’s PTSA, a team of volunteers and High collected the items for the school’s first ‘Prom Bring It’ event on March 31.
Another 150 dresses will be donated by Promisses, a Richmond nonprofit group that has collected and given away dresses for the past five years.
High (pictured) began organizing the Henrico event to help make sure that as many students as possible have a chance to get prom queen glamorous (or prom king handsome) despite a tough economy.
“High school should be a time in life that you not only learn, but enjoy, and develop memories,” High said. “I didn’t want children to miss one of the most pivotal events in their lives due to financial challenges.”
The cost of outfitting a teen for a prom can add up. Dresses can cost about $300 or $400 and there’s still the price of shoes and accessories.
Students at participating Henrico County high schools must register with their guidance counselors to participate in the ‘Prom Bring It’ event. Some of the students who have already registered told High they’re participating because they want to take some responsibility for their prom without going to their parents for money.
Eventually, the outfits that are collected will be moved to a donated storefront at Virginia Centers Common mall. Students who have registered will “shop” at the event for outfits to wear to their proms.
For now, the dresses of varied sizes, colors and styles and other items are kept secure in an unusual storage area. Chris Rollison, Hermitage High’s director of student activities, gave us a tour recently.
“We’re underneath the gymnasium,” Rollison explained. “Behind you is our basketball team room. Across the hallway is our wrestling team room. This is a storage area for some wrestling equipment. Our girl’s soccer team stores some things in here.”
The room isn’t upscale but it works well for now as more items arrive and are hung on donated clothing racks or stacked in boxes inside built-in storage units.
High and others on the committee are working to make the final arrangements for the main event. She said they still need more suits and tuxes for the young men. And many of the donated items still need dry cleaning.
“The amount of work that goes into organizing an event like this is more difficult than I imagined,” High said. “Thank God for the ladies on my committee. They have been a great support.”
Clothing stores, shoe stores, and beauty salons, along with other merchants, have donated items, services and money.
“I am amazed at the overwhelming support from local and major businesses,” High said.
Another committee member, Charlene Easter of Epiphany Beauty, will donate her expertise. She’ll conduct workshops for the young ladies to show them how to apply their make-up, style their hair and how to accessorize for their special night.
The Henrico County volunteers have gotten support from Promisses, which was started in 2007 by Latasha Tucker, according to the group’s website. Tucker launched the group with the goal of providing less fortunate girls the chance to have a selection of gently-worn but pretty prom dresses. The group collected so many dresses it can now share some with other prom events.
Davia Archer, a Promisses volunteer, said the group will host its sixth annual shopping day in Petersburg on March 17 for girls in the Tri-Cities area. She said the event is her way of making up for a missed opportunity.
“I did not attend my own prom. Therefore, I live vicariously through the hundreds of teen girls we help each year,” Archer said.
High recalled her prom night. She said that her father, who is from the Dominican Republic, and her mother, who is Lebanese, didn’t really understand how important the prom was for her. They were focused more on her graduation so her prom wasn’t as fabulous as she would have liked.
High said she wants these students to have good memories of the entire high school experience including prom night. “It’s a night you share with your closest friends, a memory that will live on forever.”
Asked if she feels like a fairy godmother, High laughed and said, “There are a lot of fairy godmothers involved [in this project.]”
For details about Prom Bring It, visit http://www.facebook.com/PROM.BRING.IT For d.etails about Promisses, visit
Holman Middle School student Victoria Nguyen recently was named Miss Virginia American Coed Junior Teen after competing in the Miss Virginia American Coed pageant in Williamsburg. She was the youngest competitor in her division. Nguyen now will advance to represent Virginia at the 2015 Miss American Junior Teen Pageant at Walt Disney World in Florida in November. > Read more.
Companion Extraordinaire Home Care and Skilled Services will be honoring veterans and current military members May 14 at 11 a.m. The event will take place at 5311 Lakeside Avenue.
Companion Extraordinaire dedicated a hall in its new Lakeside office as a “Wall of Honor” and will be presenting 13 military service men and women with certificates as well as placing their service photos on the wall.
> Read more.
Public vote open through Friday to select winner
Citizen Staff Reports
Henrico resident Haley Malloy is one of three national finalists for a $10,000 scholarship, whose winner will be determined by the vote of the public.
Malloy is a finalist for The Goddard School Anthony A. Martino Scholarship, which is open annually to any high school junior or senior who graduated from a Goddard School pre-kindergarten or kindergarten program. Applicants are evaluated based upon the work ethic and perseverance they have demonstrated – two key characteristics of Martino, the founder of the Goddard School franchise system. > Read more.
Relax this holiday weekend with Fridays Uncorked at Southern Season – taste wines from the Roman Empire! Or at James River Cellars who is hosting “Experience Virginia” – sample Virginia wine, beer, cider and mead. And what goes better with wine than strawberries – an annual tradition in Varina, the Gallmeyer Farms’ Strawberry Fields Festival is tomorrow. Other fun happenings this weekend include: “A Little Princess” at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen; weekly dance at American Legion Post 125; and National Theatre Live’s “Man and Superman” at the University of Richmond. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Final performance of 2015 season – ‘Quartet’ – starts this week
CAT Theatre’s final show of its 51st season – Quartet by Ronald Harwood – will open May 22 and run through June 6. It will be the show’s Richmond-area premiere.
The theatre also announced its four-show schedule for its 52nd season, which will begin in October and continue into June 2016, and announced a new partnership with The Bifocals Theatre Project, an outreach program into senior communities in the Richmond region. > Read more.
It’s a beautiful weekend to spend outdoors and Henrico has many options to choose from! The 31st annual Lebanese Food Festival begins today on the grounds of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church. The MISS Foundation’s Kindness Walk is tomorrow, as well as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk. Take a Sunday Stroll at Dorey Park with the Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society or raise money for the March of Dimes at the March for Babies in Innsbrook. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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