Students and nonprofit work together to provide free prom attire to youth
by Mary Ellen Halvorson PhD Ed, Superintendent, Tri-City College Prep High School
For the past four years, Thea Cline has been one of the forces behind Priceless Prom, an event that provides prom attire and accessories free of charge to students to attend local high school proms. There is a lot of work that goes on before the event to collect, clean, steam press and repair donated clothing. Cline recruited her mother Kathryn Cline to help with the event and its preparations.
“This job required me to help plan and set up the look of the Priceless Prom “showroom” as well as keep on top of managing new donations (cleaning, fixing, sorting through and hanging up) and volunteer jobs,” said Cline, who loves spending time with her mother.
After her first year of experience, Cline turned to her school for help, and students have now helped for the past three years. Cline recruited Tri-City College Prep High School’s Student Council and PAL (Peer Assistance Leadership) members to help set up, run and take down the showroom. Her school principal, Keri Milliken, was also enlisted to supervise activities and transport items.
The Priceless Prom Showroom is where students come to view, try on and receive the free prom attire. There are hundreds of dresses as well as shoes, jewelry, purses and other accessories for the girls. For the guys, there are tuxedo shirts, pants, coats, ties, vests and accessories. Volunteers are always present and eager to help each prom attendee’s dream outfit emerge from the racks and tables of clothing. Some students bring their dates so their outfits can be coordinated.
Cline and her mom personally purchased mannequins from a thrift shop to be used for displaying some of the prom attire in the showroom. The fitting rooms are furnished with mirrors and plenty of space to move about.
The downtown Prescott showroom is available thanks to Mr. Dino Bulleri, who has allowed Priceless Prom to use his building over the past three years for the showroom and for storage. This year’s showroom had prime window visibility from the sidewalk on Cortez Street.
Priceless Prom is an activity of North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities. As head student coordinator for the past two years, Cline works closely with Krystal Koons and Diane Delong, who are the leaders of the program at North Star. North Star is a nonprofit organization eligible to receive Arizona Tax Credits.
When all the proms are all over, the work is not over. Volunteers must then pack up the remaining clothing and accessories to be stored for next year. Prom can be an expensive event for students, but thanks to Priceless Prom, it is more affordable for Prescott area youth.