Making a night to remember

Michelle Wulfson | The ItemJunior Service League members Tehrah Sikes and Kailleigh Patrick have collected about 20 prom dresses so far for this year’s Say Yes to the Dress event at Huntsville High School. The event is held every year at Huntsville High School for local senior girls to shop for gently worn and in-style prom dresses and accessories free of charge. Not pictured in Retired JSL member and Say Yes to the Dress point of contact at Huntsville High School Susan Cason.

The Junior Service League needs the community’s help in collecting gently worn and in-style prom dresses, as well as formal accessories and relevant gift cards to give local High School girls a night to remember at their senior prom.

With little formal shopping options locally, busy parents and some who simply can’t bear the cost, Say Yes to the Dress will provide an opportunity for Huntsville High School senior girls to have a special day shopping for their big night completely free of charge.

Previously known as Project Cinderella, Susan Cason and her sister volunteered to take on the program in 2008 as part of their Junior Service League work, revamping it into an event for Huntsville High School girls to remember.

“We renamed it ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ because the show had just come out at that time and we decided instead of having just a cabinet in a teacher’s classroom with dresses in it, to make it into an event,” retired JSL member Susan Cason said.

Cason may be retired from JSL, however she still volunteers as the point of contact at Huntsville High School, helping current JSL members and Say Yes to the Dress organizers Kaileigh Patrick and Tehrah Sikes collect dresses and grow the program each year.

“We just want to give them an experience that a lot of girls going to prom don’t have. Most people have a mom, grandma, aunt – someone to take them to lunch, go find dresses, go get their nails done, hair done, buy shoes – they don’t have that opportunity,” Sikes said. “They have no idea that you really do that, so they really want to go to prom and we just want them to be able to do that and not have their parents feel this whole responsibility because it is a lot of money.”

Inspired by the TLC reality show based on a team of Kleinfeld Bridal stylists who help a bride find the perfect wedding dress for her special day, Cason, Patrick and Sikes pull out all of the stops to make the girls of Huntsville High School have a special experience for their prom.

Previously held in places like the gym or Cason’s classroom, the event is now being held in the high school catering event space for a more elegant atmosphere during all lunch periods and after school.

Local businesses and community members donate gift cards to be raffled off during the shopping event for girls to get their nails and hair done, dress alterations if need be, to go out to dinner or get spray tans. Additionally, Patrick and Sikes put goodie bags together for raffle drawings with fun items like Bath and Body Works sprays to make the girls feel special.

Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and sparkling water spritzers prepared by the high school culinary arts students of Buzzy’s Lunchbox add a special touch for the girls to enjoy while perusing clothing racks provided by the band.

“It’s like the campus comes together to really put on a nice event and on average every year we give away about 50 dresses,” Cason said.

About 20 dresses have been collected so far, however the organizers behind the event are hoping to collect at least 50, and while all sizes are encouraged to be donated, extended sizes are especially needed.

“If you didn’t go (to prom) just because you didn’t have a dress, wouldn’t that be a shame, when it’s so easy for us to go in our closet and take that dress out that you’re never going to wear again. If you’re the mother of a girl that graduated two, three years ago, she’s never going to touch that dress again, get it out of the closet and give it to somebody who would really shine in it,” Cason said.

The event focuses on mainly getting dresses to the senior girls of Huntsville High School during all lunch periods, however girls from all over Walker County are welcome to find their perfect dress as well after school hours from 3:40 to around 5 p.m.

Donated dresses can be dropped off at Huntsville High School’s main office, ADK Salon on Sam Houston Avenue or with any Junior Service League member through April 1.