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'This is their time': Student organizes free prom attire event for classmates

A call to Goodwill Industries began with the hope of a few donated dresses, then turned into a shopping adventure for Clackamas County students.

PORTLAND, Oregon — For many high school students, dressing up for prom feels like a rite of passage, albeit a potentially expensive one. At New Urban High School in Oak Grove, senior Parker Maser didn’t want her classmates struggling to afford it.

"[They] work really hard. Most of them have part time if not full-time jobs," Maser said. "They show up to school, they're doing what they can before they have to go to work and then they just repeat it the next day."

As part of the prom committee, Maser called several local businesses seeking sponsorships, including Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. She reached public relations manager Hayley Platt.

"Parker contacted me and said, "I'd love to get some dresses for some classmates,'" recalled Platt. "I was like, 'Let's just do the whole thing!'"

Platt pulled dozens of evening gowns, suits, shoes and purses and created a private shopping room for students. On Tuesday, a bus form North Clackamas School District delivered 17 kids to the Goodwill store on Southeast 6th Street in Portland. They chose what they wanted to take home, free of charge.

"None of our kids could have afforded the prom attire so this is a huge opportunity for them," said Kathleen Snyder, a teacher at New Urban. "It actually made them want to go to prom."

Students like Kylee Mahoney said it felt great to try on dress clothes and she loved how it made her feel.

"People reacting to how good you look for being dressed up fancy once or a couple times in your whole life," Mahoney said. "It's definitely exciting."

"For Goodwill to put this on has been really great," Maser said. She waited until after her classmates had chosen dresses before picking one herself. "I wanted to make sure they got theirs first because this is their time."

This story is part of our new series, Pacific Storyland. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, we'll bring you the most heartwarming and inspiring stories from where you live. Know someone you'd like to see featured? Let us know! Email us at pacificstoryland@kgw.com or text your story ideas to 503-226-5088.

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