KINGMAN – The Kingman High School “S” Club – the high school level of Soroptimist International – and student council members were rubbing chopsticks at Panda Express for a “community give-back day.” The goal was to collect clothes donations for the 2017 prom and prom fair.
In addition to prom collections, 20 percent of Panda Express’ Saturday’s earnings will go toward covering prom night expenses for underprivileged students at KHS, Lee Williams and Kingman Academy High School.
The students and Jennifer Jackson, the school’s student council mentor and S-Club sponsor, were onsite accepting donations for the prom fair. They collected dresses, shoes, makeup, accessories, dress shirts, slacks, and ties.
And collect they did. Generous citizens dropped off 22 dresses, five pairs of shoes, three boxes of jewelry, a couple purses, three dress shirts and two pairs of men’s slacks. The Panda Express proceeds were still being tallied as of Wednesday.
The donations are mostly for juniors and seniors who are part of the Families in Transition or Free and Reduced Meals programs, but also for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the experience. Jackson pointed out that senior year is already expensive with college applications, pictures and yearbooks.
“There ain’t no shame in it,” she said. “It’s their last dance so they deserve to be here.”
Jackson has been working with other instructors and staff to bring more attention to the charity.
“The community usually drops stuff off at KHS throughout the year,” she said. “This year we wanted to be more visible and have a more central location to come to us.”
Panda Express contacted her about the event. Saturday is usually the restaurant’s busiest day of the week and Jackson pounced on the opportunity. The proceeds will go toward prom tickets and even prom night dinners from local eateries.
Underprivileged kids invited to the prom fair pick out clothes and get a free ticket – which runs $15 this year. Other teens who might not have the money can also pick through the fair’s selection of dresses, suits and other items.
“The prom fair experience is for everyone,” Jackson said.
She added that the school has plenty of dresses, shoes, jewelry and new makeup. It’s the boys that could use more contemporary men’s wear – including ties, shoes, dress socks and even items like shave kits and cologne.
“Boys get their feelings hurt, too, when there’s nothing for them,” she said.
The boutique-style prom fair will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 1 in the KHS cafeteria. There will be plenty of racks (lent to the school by J.C. Penney) for suits and dresses and tables topped with shoes, jewelry, ties and cosmetics. It’s pretty much a free-for-all for the students.
“They go pick out what they want for prom night,” Jackson said.
She added that about 100 kids attend the prom fair each year. Since the program started in 2011, nearly $3,000 for tickets and dinners has been raised.
Kingman’s Venture and Soroptimist clubs volunteer their time to help. Local clubs and businesses also chip in wherever they can.
Jackson said local barbershops and beauty salons have donated money, time and effort toward haircuts and styling appointments. The Elks Lodge, Dambar and Steakhouse, Garlic Clove and Calico’s have all at one point decorated their establishments to match school colors and prom themes.
“We’ve had a great outpouring of support,” Jackson said.
What comes around goes around.
“We’ve done the prom fair for quite a few years,” Jackson said. “We completely rely on our community and those students who have already made it through the fun times of high school to give back so students can have an unforgettable prom experience, too.”
“The amount of stuff I get with the tags still on is really cool,” she said. “Everyone’s got stuff in their closet that didn’t fit right. We’ll take it.”
Prom for KHS and KAHS is April 22. Lee Williams High School’s prom is April 29.
If you missed Saturday’s event and still want to help, feel free to drop items off to Jackson at KHS.