A Night to Remember

February 2010
Written By: 
April A. Morris

Katie’s Project helps prom dreams come true.

You may not remember the name of your high school English teacher, but chances are you have vivid memories of your prom night—the color and style of your clothes, what your date wore, the chart-topping song, and your last dance. The night’s price tag, however, probably didn’t approach the cost of several car payments or a five-night vacation in Cancun.

Including the dress, tuxedo, flowers, dinner, tickets, and transportation, a prom night experience can cost each student an average of $600. Considering this expense, there are students in the Grand Strand area that have faced the reality of missing this teenage rite of passage.

In 2007, St. James High School student Katie Rhoden conceived a senior project to help get these students to the prom. Armed with just an idea and a proclivity for fashion, Katie collected prom dresses and accessories for girls, launching Katie’s Project. Kathy Foxworth, now the organization’s president and executive director, met Katie and realized this young woman had created something special. Ready to assist where she could, Kathy donated twenty of her own formal dresses and then enlisted the help of sponsors and volunteers. “Katie had a dream for her senior project and we have made it a reality,” says Kathy. The prom cause is obviously dear to the community because since its creation, Katie’s Project has provided everything from a dress to makeup to shoes for more than 500 students.

Last fall, Katie’s Project held its first gala, Katie’s Prom, and raised nearly $25,000 toward outfitting teens for this magical night. In addition, Myrtle Beach’s Market Common has donated retail space for Katie’s Closet, a new storefront that opened in December, offering prom supplies for students, along with jewelry, handbags created from recycled formalwear, and original artwork for local shoppers—with proceeds going right back into Katie’s Project. Instead of going to a mobile dress fitting held at a hotel or other venue, visiting Katie’s Closet offers access to one more teen milestone: shopping for the dress. “It’s an intimate shopping experience, just like they’re going to the mall,” says Kathy.

In 2010, Katie’s Project has already planned a gala for August and is launching an online boutique with Katie’s Project merchandise and other items to help fund the organization. The nonprofit is working with local restaurants to take the prom experience one step further with discounts on prom night meals,
says Foxworth.

Now a College of Charleston student, Katie leaves the day-to-day operations to Kathy and volunteers. “I feel that Katie’s Project has taken a turn for the absolute best and has surprised me more and more every single day. Thanks to the efforts of Kathy and our community, Katie’s Project now has a store as well as an avid fan base and charitable population,” she says.

Prom season is fast approaching, and volunteers and the teen advisory board are working feverishly to gather hundreds of items during the annual Dress Drive, going on now through the last weekend in May. So drop off your dresses, earrings, or shoes to help Katie and her supporters create a dream prom for students who otherwise would be staying home.