By: Lani Hansen, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– Prom season is just around the corner for high school students and it can be a little stressful when it comes to buying the perfect dress or tuxedo, but this year tribal students may be able to save money.
Savannah Chamberlin Special Projects Coordinator and Mackenzie Jones Program Development Director both of Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Department of Education and Training are happily bringing back the second year of their Formal Wear Drive.
“Savannah and I had this idea together last year, and we have really taken the lead on it,” Jones said. “We have got some great donations from people in the department and people have been great about sharing this opportunity with the students they work with.”
Being in the Department of Education and Training, Chamberlin and Jones work with students who receive funds from a grant who would rather spend their money on graduation needs and not prom. Many other students do not have the money to buy prom wear.
“That’s why we put the drive on, just to help our students as much as we can,” Chamberlin said.
The department where Chamberlin and Jones work has different funding for a specific academic work or training, but they want to think of their students as holistically and understand that social occasions or extra-curricular can be just as important to keeping kids in school.
With last year being the first year for this drive, several local stores in Okmulgee and the community donated thousands of dollars worth of dresses, suits and ties. Chamberlin said they had over 50 students come to receive formal wear last year.
“I don’t think we had to spend anything out of pocket, we get vouchers from some stores who can not donate actual formal wear,” Chamberlin said. “They will give us vouchers or referrals. This year we have Olga’s Bridal that we will be doing refferals too, and they set up a fitting with a student and for us that is how they donate is the student can go over there, pick it out and they get to keep it.”
For this year they wanted to focus on partnering with the schools they work with by going out to these schools, instead of where last year they had students come by the office.
“We have already scheduled more than ten schools that will allow us to go out bringing our suits and dress collections,” Jones said. “Then we will work with the Indian Education Coordinator, and we will get as many tribally enrolled students ready for prom as we can.”
Applications for fitting are now available, students should be able to apply online through MCN Department of Education and Training Facebook page or the Department of Education and Training newsletter. After filling out the application the student will be notified within two weeks to set up a day and time.
The appointments for students will remain open until Chamberlin and Jones are notified of the last prom day. They will be accepting donations throughout the year. Donations can be dropped off to the Education and Training building at the MCN complex.
For more information contact Savannah Chamberlain at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-732-7743.