Donated dresses and costumes elicit joy from LBUSD students as they prepare for prom • Long Beach Post News

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The event was organized by Council Member Al Austin, who represents District 8, to ease the burden and expense of purchasing prom outfits for families who might struggle to afford them.

More than 150 LBUSD seniors and their families lined up outside the AndyLiz store at Bixby Knolls on Wednesday night where they were able to browse through shelves of prom dresses in all colors, sizes and styles; high heels, earrings and necklaces; and even some men’s suits to look their best on prom night.

LBUSD high school students choose shoes for prom during a free pop-up shop at the AndyLiz store on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Photo by Sarahi Apaez.

Ruben Garrett, a student at Wilson High School, was staring at something green. While the men’s selection was much smaller than the hundreds of dresses available, he was able to walk away with a dapper suit jacket.

His mother, Danielle, couldn’t hide the pride on her face as she watched her son try on his prom outfit. Ruben is her eldest son and the first in her immediate family to graduate from high school.

“I couldn’t go to prom or even graduate, so seeing him happy means everything to me,” she said. “As a single mom, it’s incredibly helpful.”

The free prom pop-up event, part of District 8’s Gener8 Kindness initiative, was an idea put forward by an intern at the Austin office who says it was inspired by her own prom story.

During her senior year of high school in 2017, Karla Silva grappled with her parents’ recent divorce and didn’t know how she could financially afford the seemingly endless string of senior events, graduations and insignia. , not to mention finding a prom dress. .

Fortunately, with the help of her family members, they were able to step in to help her.

Isabella Meader of Ernest McBride High School searches for an elegant 50s-inspired dress with her mother during the free prom pop-up shop at AndyLiz Boutique on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Photo by Sarahi Apaez.

“It meant so much to me and I wanted to make sure everyone got to prom,” Silva said.

The dresses, costumes and accessories for Wednesday’s pop-up were donated by the community. Students had hundreds of options to choose from.

When Silva stopped by the AndyLiz boutique a few weeks ago to ask if it would be possible to hold the event there, owner Candice Hofer jumped at the chance.

“I almost started crying earlier watching everyone being so happy,” she said. “It shows how important it is to give one of your items, which you’ll probably never wear again, to kids who really need it.”

Since the event was announced, Hofer says she has received calls from high schools in different cities asking how they could also host a prom pop-up event.

Council member Austin greeted the families as they arrived and encouraged them for the upcoming dance.

“I’ve seen schools from all over come out and I’m very happy to see the turnout,” he said. “Hopefully we can make this a recurring event in the future.”

Lissette Landeros excitedly finds the perfect dress for her during the free prom pop-up shop at the AndyLiz Boutique in Long Beach on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Photo by Sarahi Apaez.

For LBUSD students, this is their first in-person prom since the COVID-19 pandemic began and many said they felt lucky to attend.

Yajaira Madrid, a student at Jordan High School, said she would invite her sister, who graduated in 2020, and was unable to attend her own prom.

She left in an elegant red dress and her friend, Melissa Lima, brought home a floor-length, shimmering gold dress.

“Being part of a low-income household, sometimes it’s hard to ask for luxurious things like this, but we’re very grateful for that,” Madrid said.

According to Silva, the remaining dresses will be donated to local high school students who may not have been able to attend the pop-up.

Noah Skinner stretches in his new costume to make sure he fits during the Free Prom Pop-Up Shop hosted by Council Member Al Austin at the AndyLiz Boutique on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Photo by Sarahi Apaez.

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