4-H program helping Henryville students hold prom

Prom Aid has collected prom dresses and suits for students who need them.

It's been two weeks since tornadoes tore through southern Indiana and while many families are concentrating on clearing debris, young people in Henryville are looking for hope.

The students at Henryville High School are trying to salvage their high school prom. On Friday, school leaders finalized the date and location for this year's prom: Friday, April 27th at the Kye's Conference Center in Jeffersonville.

It's going to be held in that larger facility, because they're expecting more than 400 students to attend, many more than in years past. Now, those students will also be able to dress up for the occasion, thanks to Prom Aid - a program sponsored by Clark County's 4-H Junior Leaders.

IU Southeast student Kaitlin Logan spent Friday afternoon unloading a trunk full of donated dresses. They're part of rack upon rack of silks and satins to outfit students for free at Henryville's prom.

And this year, prom means more than most.

"Prom is one of the best times you have in high school, so you don't want these kids after going through a disaster to realize, 'Oh well, we're not gonna have this'," Logan said.

"We want prom to stand out and to be one of the best memories from this year and make it one of the best of our high school experiences even with the circumstances," said Henryville sophomore Alicia Lindley.

Lindley survived the tornadoes that tore down her high school two weeks ago. She says for students, prom will be a night to forget all of that destruction and celebrate. She'll be attending with her boyfriend, who is a senior at Henryville High School.

Many of her classmates no longer have money for fancy formalwear. They're still recouping the basics, some after losing their homes in the storm.

Now, that doesn't matter.

Girls can get dresses, boys can get suits, all for free at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

"You can go into a store and spend over $100 on just a dress alone. Meanwhile, we provide them with a dress and the shoes, jewelry," said 4-H Junior Leader Christina Branstetter. "We have any and every size and color and design that you can imagine."

The Prom Aid program didn't start because of the tornadoes. The effort has been going on for about five years, but since the storm, donations have more than doubled. 

Organizers received more than 700 dresses from all over the state.

"I mean, dress after dress comes in." Logan explained. "I'm on my way after this to pick up 70 more dresses from down in New Albany."

"The amount of response from the community is just phenomenal," Lindley said.

It's something students appreciate: generosity that will make at least one night about teenagers, not the tornadoes.

"Everybody's helping build memories. It's really great," Lindley said.

Dresses will be available to try on and pick up at the Community Building at the Clark County Fairgrounds from 6-8pm tonight (Friday, March 16) and again from 9 am-noon on Saturday, March 17. 

The dresses aren't just for Henryville students, but any Clark County student who cannot afford a dress for prom.