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
Michael Arad, the architect of the World Trade Center Memorial, will be the keynote speaker for The 2016 Adolf-Adams JCC Forum on Sat., Jan. 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., at the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center in Henrico.
Arad’s “Reflecting Absence” architectural design was selected from more than 5,000 competitive entries as the template for the Memorial’s construction in New York City. During the forum, Arad will discuss the significance and symbolism of the design, as well as his inspiration. The event, which is a highlight of the Weinstein JCC’s Patron of the Arts series, is open to the public > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 12/15/2015
The Sixth Annual RVA Environmental Film Festival (RVA EFF) will be held Feb. 1-7, 2016 at various locations, including in Henrico County.
A partnership of The Enrichmond Foundation, Capital Region Land Conservancy, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Falls of the James Group - Sierra Club, the festival will feature a number of insightful films designed to raise awareness of environmental issues relative to all residents of the planet and Richmond citizens in particular.
A detailed schedule will be released at a time closer to the festival, but the popular children's portion has been set for Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. > Read more.
Start celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with Susan Greenbaum at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. She will present “An Evening of Love Songs.” Other fun events this weekend include Henrico Rec & Parks’ 30th annual One Act Showcase; “The Lego Movie” playing at the Henrico Theatre (tickets are only $!); and Robin and Linda Williams who will be performing at the Shady Grove Coffeehouse. And homeowners will really appreciate the free Home Improvement Seminar taking place at Harvie ES. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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