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Springfield dress drive raises money for struggling students

Monday, January 16, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD — A nurse at Kickapoo High School put out a call last month for women to donate old prom and party dresses to raise money for a program to help struggling students. Seventy-five dresses came in the first day.

Several people called to say they wanted to donate theirs, too, and a tanning chain offered to collect dresses at its Springfield locations.

Now, organizers of the drive are hoping to bring in more than 200 dresses, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

"Some are in excellent shape and we won't have to do anything," nurse Tammy Holley told the newspaper. "There are some that are very simple and some that are flashy or formal. We have a huge range."

The dresses will be cleaned and mended, if necessary, then resold March 30 and 31 for $10 to $30 apiece, in most cases. The proceeds will go toward Kickapoo's Helping Us Graduate — or HUG — Fund, which helps needy students participate in important school experiences.

The idea for the HUG Fund came up in 1999, when a Kickapoo teenager running for a student leadership post raised awareness about a growing number of teens who were living on their own or "couch surfing" at the homes of friends and family.

Although some of those students worked, many weren't financially able to participate in typical high school experiences, like purchasing prom tickets or paying for a yearbook.

The bulk of the HUG Fund, which is drying up, has paid for graduation caps and gowns, prom pictures and other "fun stuff" that creates special memories, Holley said. Money from the fund also has paid for busing and a drivers education course.

Initially, Holley and about 10 students set up Saturday drop-off spots. Then, the manager of Hawaiian Sun Tanning offered to collect dresses during business hours through Feb. 21.

"I was surprised and impressed that a local business wanted to partner with us," she said. "That will increase the number of people who donate. It makes it more convenient."

Holley said the sale will also help students find affordable dresses for special occasions in the spring.

"We have a date set for the sale but not a location as of yet and we are still in need of racks to store and display the dresses for sale," she said. "We will need hangers and possibly dry cleaning and mending."


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