Rae Gutcheon, a senior at West Hartford’s Hall High School, has been joined by junior Aislinn Mitchell, and the two have organized Hall’s second annual prom dress collection for Kristen’s Kloset.
By Ronni Newton
Many high school juniors and seniors spend months planning for and eagerly anticipating their proms, but as she looked forward to her first prom last year, Rae Gutcheon starting thinking about the other students at Hall, and throughout West Hartford and the surrounding area, who might not be able to go to prom due to the expense of buying a dress.
“There was a lot of talk about us getting our prom dresses, and I realized that a lot of people couldn’t afford it. I wanted to make prom affordable for everyone,” Gutcheon said.
As a junior last year, Gutcheon single-handedly launched a prom dress collection at Hall, and collected more than 50 dresses. She found a local charity, Kristen’s Kloset in Southington, that provides dresses to high school students in need, and the organization was very appreciative of the large donation.
Hoping to expand the program this year, and also ensure that it keeps going after she graduates, Gutcheon has partnered with Hall junior Aislinn Mitchell for this year’s collection. The program is also now part of Hall’s “Helping Hands” club.
“Rae reached out to me, and I thought that this was such a cool cause,” said Mitchell, who is personally experiencing her own pre-prom excitement for the first time.
For next year, Mitchell plans to recruit a junior to help her keep the program going.
With a week to go, the pair had already collected about 30 dresses, and many more were anticipated. New and gently-used dresses in any size, both short and long, can be accepted.
Gutcheon and Mitchell said that they’ve gotten some really beautiful donations this year.
The prom dress collection runs through Feb. 1, and dresses can be dropped off in the main office at Hall High School.
Kristen’s Kloset is a program run by Southington Youth Services, and provides teens with new and gently-used prom dresses at low cost. It is intended to assist students in need, and also helps with the cost of tuxes and flowers.
Kristen’s Kloset will be open in the Freshman Cafe at Southington High School (720 Pleasant St., Southington) on Saturday, March 2 and Saturday, March 9, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m; on Sunday, March 3 and Sunday, March 9, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; on Thursday, March 7, from 2:30-6 p.m.; and on Friday, March 8, from 2:30-8 p.m. The program is open to students from all area towns, and a valid high school ID is required.
According to the Kristen’s Kloset website, the program “ is named after Kristen Warner, a Southington middle school student, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2004. Her family initiated this program in her honor and Southington Youth Services has expanded it over the years.”
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