Glitter, sequins and tulle filled part of the Raymore-Peculiar High School library Saturday afternoon as students browsed for prom dresses at the Say Yes to the Prom Dress event.
The best part? It was all free.
If you haven’t been prom dress shopping lately, you might be in for a bit of a sticker shock. Angela Snyder, a family and consumer science teacher at Ray-Pec, said dresses can range from $100 to $900. After students came to her asking where they might find free or discounted dresses, Snyder decided to organize the event, which takes donated dresses and makes them available to any student who needs one.
“For a lot of our students, they just don’t have the financial backing to do that, let alone get the accessories… their hair, their nails,” Snyder said.
Working with students in the school’s chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Snyder collected 171 donated dresses, ranging from size zero to 22.
“I know a lot of girls who don’t have enough money to afford a dress. Usually, you just wear them once and you’re done with them,” said 18-year-old Jada Yancey, president of the school’s FCCLA chapter. “In high school, it’s a really big thing to be able to go to prom. I know tons of girls who spend $300 on prom dresses.”
Most of the dresses were styles from the past two to three years, although one dress was circa 1977.
“It’s kind of a repeat style, so somebody might find it useful, maybe an eclectic-style fashionista,” Snyder said.
Volunteer Lia Knippa, 17, works as a model at Stephanie’s Bridal Boutique in Independence. She reached out to the store to ask for a clothing rack and ended up with a donation of 15 new dresses.
Along with dresses, community donations to the event included six pairs of donated shoes, four clutches and about 20 necklaces and other pieces of jewelry.
Student volunteers cataloged and organized the dresses ahead of time and sorted them by size and style. They acted as personal shoppers, helping each student look for the right dress and offering suggestions.
Fifteen-year-old Abigail Glenn of Raymore came to the event with her sister McKenzie Glenn, 17, and friend Riley Flessner, 14. When she came out of the dressing room wearing a long red dress accented by sparkly gems, the girls and a group of FCCLA volunteers cheered with excitement.
“I was worried she wasn’t going to find one. I’m just glad she found one she liked...” said McKenzie, who donated one of her own dresses to the event. “It’s awesome to have people there who are cheering you on and telling you you look awesome.”
Seventeen-year-old Anika Prickett of Peculiar picked a black dress with a jeweled bodice and a long, flowing tulle skirt.
Her mom, Jo Prickett, was very pleased with the event.
“It’s really nice people have donated dresses for girls who need help. I’m a single mom with four kids,” Jo Prickett said.
Despite the multitude of dresses on offer, only six students took one home from the event.
However, Snyder will make the dresses available in her classroom until prom for any Raymore Peculiar High School student who still needs a dress. She plans to hold onto any remaining items to distribute for future dances.