$10 dresses: How Hoffman Estates High School helped make prom affordable

A good prom night is something high school students look forward to. Unfortunately, some are unable to afford the items that might be needed to enjoy the night.

To lessen the economic impact, Hoffman Estates High School fashion students came up with a “Say Yes to the Dress” event. This recent event allowed students most in need of assistance to have free access to dresses worth between $300 and $1,000.

More than 50% of students at Hoffman Estates High School meet the federal guidelines to receive free or reduced-price lunches.

“We saw a need at Hoffman High School,” said Jessica Ecker, Fashion teacher and the Family and Consumer Sciences department chair. “A lot of students may be unable to afford these types of dresses and these types of styles.”

After coming up with the idea of the “Say Yes to the Dress” event, Ecker and the Say Yes to the Dress student committee spent about a year writing to different companies for donations.

“I started a letter-writing campaign, talking about our school, our students' needs, the importance of supporting our Hoffman community, and how we would love to start this program to help our students prom experience be one they may otherwise could have imagined,” Ecker said.

Peaches Boutique, based in Chicago, answered.

“They loved our story and understood our need,” Ecker said. “They loved the idea of being part of this magical moment for our students.”

According to Ecker, Peaches Boutique ended up donating nearly 90 dresses.

The fashion team was able to get more than 60 students fitted for dresses in advance, working with the student services team to identify those who needed the gowns most.

Afterward, the fashion students opened the dress shop to all in the school at a three-day event, as many students still had a need.

Students at that point could purchase the new gowns for just $10. The money collected will go back to the Say Yes to the Dress program to help with garment repairs, cleaning and any other event needs in the future.

More than 80 students were able to walk out with a gown.

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