CCHS student leads formalwear drive ahead of prom
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Going to prom is a big milestone for students during their high school years, and each year the cost of dresses, suits or tuxedos, shoes, and accessories increases.
For some students, they deal with the day-to-day stress of their families having enough for food and a roof over their heads, and the idea of attending an event like prom may feel out of reach.
This year, Elise Fuselier, a senior at Copperas Cove High School, wants to help students attend prom and celebrate that milestone, and do so in an outfit that helps them feel confident.
On Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., she and a group of fellow students and volunteers will be holding a formal apparel drive at Copperas Cove High School. The community is asked to go through their closets for formalwear items they haven’t worn lately or have only worn once and bring them to the high school. They can access the campus via the Avenue D entry, at the cafeteria entrance where Fuselier will be glad to accept the items.
Fuselier said the event is kind of like a farewell to her platform. When she was a Five Hills pageant titleholder, she worked on the platform of childhood poverty, and started the Blessings in a Backpack program at Halstead Elementary.
“I wanted to do something else,” she said. “Last year, when my mom and I were prom dress shopping, I think that was when it really kind of set for me. It’s really exciting to look at all the dresses that we try on, and then actually get to prom. Everybody’s there and they’re showing off their best dresses that they found. But then, you see those kids that don’t really get up. They just watch everyone.”
Her goal is to collect enough dresses, for example, that a young woman like herself can have more than one option and not feel like they are “settling” for a dress because that’s only what’s available in their budget or size.
The collection drive isn’t limited to dresses either, although Fuselier said it’s easier for the young men to re-wear suits.
“My boyfriend wore a suit to prom last year, and he just wore it again last weekend for a wedding. This isn’t just for girls’ prom dresses. With prom dresses, there are big colors, they’re pretty. But the dress is something you wear once and keep in your closet, much like for the pageant. I wore that dress one time for pictures, when I went for my banner and my crown, and then it sat in the closet collecting dust. So for girls, it’s harder to re-wear it but for guys, you can put it on to go almost anywhere.”
Winett Vines is the Communities In School site coordinator for both Copperas Cove High School and Crossroads High School. As soon as she heard Fuselier’s idea, she was on board with it.
“When she brought the idea to me, typically we just think of prom dresses. But when she said formal attire, it touched my heart because she thought not only of the female students but she also thought about the male students. Sometimes, we worry about the dresses but we don’t worry about clothes for the male students, and they also go through stress. For me, being able to be a support for her in this was a blessing for me.”
Originally, the idea was to have students come in during the school day and select their dresses and other items for prom, Fuselier said.
“But then the more I thought about it, I thought about how exciting it was for my mom and me to pick out the dress,” she said. “I figured if we were going to have two dates for people to donate, then maybe we should make that second date like the big debut and they can bring someone with them.”
The formalwear will then be given away – free of charge – at a follow-up event on April 15, when students can come in, take some time to try on dresses and select accessories that will help them feel confident on their big night.
Fuselier’s mother, Ya’Shika Fuselier, said her school’s Good News Club has donated $200 toward the event. An area car club is also bringing dresses and more, donated by car clubs in the Houston area. Elise will be joined by the CCHS student council and other volunteers with Communities In Schools.
Also at the March 25 collection drive, there will be food onsite, provided by Monty’s, Herb and Earnie’s, and Chick-fil-A. Elise is crossing her fingers that maybe she’ll even be able to have a bounce house on site.
Ahead of prom, they have also arranged for a local barber to be on site on Friday, May 5, who will be offering free haircuts for the young men. A local beauty school in Killeen will be opening its doors for free hair styling for the young women, on May 6, right before the big night.
For more information about the formalwear collection, contact Winett Vines at email@example.com.