Prom promises many high school students a magical night with friends and celebration.
With that glitz and glamor, the cost of attending prom can be a hurdle for some students. Andover Central senior and Prom Dress Drive organizer, McKinnley Evans wants to ease the burden.
“They should have the opportunities to still go shopping and still get to look at all the dresses and try on everything without worrying about it,” said Evans.
In a room at the Andover School District’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) building, sequins, silks and styles fill it with an air of prom.
“All of this work that we’ve done, everything we’ve done, it’s built up to something and have a fun night and day with my friends,” said volunteer Kayla Atkinson.
Although the build-up to that big dance and celebration can be another experience.
“It’s super stressful. You’re worried about finding a date or who you’re going to go with and what you’re going to wear,” said Evans.
Finding what to wear, Evans knows, can be impacted by the price of the formal gowns.
“I was actually shopping with my mom, and I’d tried on a dress I really liked, and it ended up being way more expensive than I thought dresses would even go, and my parents surprised me with it anyways,” said Evans. “I was just really thankful, but I also realized that not everybody would be able to do that. I want girls to be able to find the dress that they really feel confident and comfortable in without that price tag scaring them off.”
That experience led Evans to organize a Prom Dress Drive last year, and bring it back again this year.
“Prom is an experience a lot of people should be able to be a part of, even if they feel like they can’t afford it or there are just some boundaries,” said Prom Dress Drive volunteer Madelyn George.
Through the Prom Drive Dress, the cost doesn’t have to keep students from having a chance to go out with friends and celebrate a memorable night.
“My favorite part was walking into our dressing room and seeing the girls giggling with each other,” Evans said. “I am just thrilled this year because we got that big donation from the Dress Gallery as well as having a partnership with Quickstitch for alterations. I’m really excited because it just seems to keep building.”
Evans is doing this as a passion project through her CAPS program, which focuses on career development.
This year’s Prom Dress Drive has had about 200 dresses donated to the effort. Evans’s friends help to get it organized and ready so the dresses can be given away.
“A week or two in advance, we’re organizing the dresses and putting them on racks, and we’re setting up the space,” said Atkinson said.
It was while volunteering that George said she was able to find her perfect prom dress, which provided significant relief.
“Prom dress shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. Dress shopping in general.” George said, “I do not like going to the mall very often. It’s a very stressful situation for me, so being able to come here and find a dress I enjoy and feel comfortable in was such a breath-off and a weight off my shoulders.”
As they are getting ready for the next giveaway, Evans is also looking to the future of this effort.
“I’m hoping to bring on some of the juniors in the CAPS program, so this can continue because we have so many dresses and so many people that continuously want to donate,” she said.
The next giveaway is planned for February 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CAPS building (1401 W 13th St, Andover, Kansas). It’s open to students in Andover and surrounding school districts. Quickstich is donating the alterations.
Donations of prom dresses are still being accepted. People can call the front office at 316-218-4640 to schedule a drop-off or email Evans at email@example.com.