Dresses donated to rural Alaskan prom held in shadow of a sleeping volcano
In a rural Alaskan boarding school, away from moms and dads, prom dresses are hard to come by. But thanks to a volunteer organization teamed up with Alaskan Airlines, girls at this boarding school received free dresses and primping for their big night.
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Bogren moved to Seattle after she got a job as an account specialist with the airline, which had just celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2007. She decided to see if anyone would be willing to donate her party dress from the anniversary ball for the girls at Mount Edgecumbe.Skip to next paragraph
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"I know lots of people buy expensive dresses and only wear them once," she said. "So I figured this would be a good opportunity to ask for donations."
That first year, 30 dresses were donated. That number has increased to about 130 this year, and the girls get to keep the frocks they pick.
The main booster for the program, Bogren solicits donations while talking to people on airplanes, in airports, at work. The program has a signature identifier: During the prom, all the volunteers wear tiaras, but Bogren sports one throughout the year to attract attention to her program.
The number of volunteers also has grown, from Bogren and five others the first year to about 40 this year. The volunteers are Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air employees, and their family and friends from across the Pacific Northwest. The volunteers include professional hairdressers, nail artists, even a master tailor.
Last Saturday, they gave the girls up-dos, fancy nails, took prom photos, and made flower decorations.
Like many students, sophomore Jessica Mute was appreciative for the help. She spent the day primping for the all-school prom, but also found time to make her boyfriend a boutonniere. Mute said it was especially nice since the boarding students "have no parents or moms" there to help them.
For many, Saturday's prom was the first time they have dressed formally for a dance, had clothes altered, had their nails and hair done, got tanning, even wore jewelry. "It's something that many of them have seen on TV," Lanthier said. "They know other people do it, and now they're doing it."
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Kellie Oester, a Portland, Ore.-based flight attendant who was in Sitka for the second year, said the freshman girls "touched my heart."
"I have a daughter that is 17. I think, 'Oh, it would be hard for her to be away from home.' So I think they kind of get the nurturing from us," said Oester, who described her duty as "glam fairy," spraying girls with glitter.
And for the record, Kayla picked a dress that was black on the top with white frilly ruffles on the bottom. She planned to wear it when she and friends went to a pizzeria before the dance. "I'm just going to be extra careful" not to drop any food on it, she laughed.