BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — Dress collection has now begun for "Say Yes to the Dress," a prom dress giveaway for students at Park Center High in Brooklyn Park. Dresses, suits, accessories, and shoes can be dropped off during administrative hours at the high school, located at 7300 Brooklyn Blvd. Collection goes until April 13, the day of the giveaway event.
The giveaway, now in its second year, is spearheaded by the school's student assistance counselor, Emily Juaire. She says the need among students is great.
"When I started here [seven years ago], I would say we had maybe 20 families that we knew were homeless, and now we’re upwards of 80-100 families that are experiencing homelessness," Juaire said.
Juaire, who collects other various items for students year-round, said it was on her heart to make sure every student had a chance to "be a kid" and attend a school dance without worrying about the cost, let alone other stressful elements of life.
"Our students experience a lot of things that I don’t think people understand. With COVID and the racial tension, I don’t think that people understand what these teenagers have had to withstand in the last three years," Juaire said. "There could be the worst thing happening in their life, but in that dress and in that moment, they feel amazing. In that moment, you are a high school kid loving this dress and stoked to go."
Juaire's room is starting to fill with prom dresses as they trickle in, but it's already stocked full of other supplies for students. Behind a privacy wall in her room, she has winter coats, shoes, feminine and general hygiene products, snacks, microwaveable meals, and school supplies -- all free for the taking.
"I’m constantly hustling for more donations, grants, whatever I can write out and do so that I can keep this filled all the time," Juaire said. "I love these kids. This is my community."
Students can come to pick out their outfits on Wednesday, April 13 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
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