Schools' supporters get second chance at prom

Fundraiser replaces 'Dancing with the Lee County Stars'
Jul. 16, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

The Lee County stars will no longer be dancing, but they will have a shot at reliving high school dreams.

Communities In Schools of Lee County, which has put on a local competition inspired by the reality show "Dancing With The Stars" for the past several years, will no longer be hosting that event as its yearly fundraiser. But in its place will be another event — a prom for grownups.

"It's a good girls' night out," Executive Director Heather Little said about the new event, dubbed 2nd Chance Prom 2013. "It's a good night to come out with your husband, who you probably didn't go to prom with."

Communities In Schools is a nonprofit that helps low-income students, as well as the school system in general. Some of its programs include providing reading and mentoring volunteers, sending hundreds of elementary school students home every Friday with food for the weekend through its BackPack Pals initiative, and providing students and families with donated school supplies through its Stuff the Bus campaign, which will kick off this weekend.

Little said in order to provide all the services at the same levels as in the past, the prom night needs to raise about $50,000 through ticket sales and sponsorships. Tickets are $50 per couple or $30 per person, and sponsorships range from $250 to $1,000.

"Like most nonprofits in the area, we have suffered a decrease in funding," Little said. "So we have a target of $45,000 to $55,000 this year, which is a lot. But we've done it before with Dancing With The Lee County Stars, and we're hoping we do it again this year."

Tamara Brogan, who is a member of the Lee County Board of Education and also sits on the Communities In Schools board of directors, said the charity's work is always well received within the school system.

"With volunteer hours, and the programs, and everything we have going in the schools, it was about $200,000 that [Communities In Schools of Lee County] put into the school system last year — which is money that we don't have with all the budget cuts and everything going on," Brogan said.

She added that every dollar raised helps; and in the end, it translates to more than just school supplies and food for children whose families can't afford those needs.

"You're touching the lives of these children and helping them be successful, and you really can't put a price on that," Brogan said.

Last year, the dancing competition raised about $24,000, but Little said that by making this year's event less of a showcase and more of a party — and by offering tickets and sponsorships at significantly reduced prices than before — the prom will attract a large crowd of people who want to help out while also having fun.

Patrons will also be able to vote on prom king and prom queen, with votes costing $5 each, and also going toward the fundraising total. Prom will be from 7:30-11 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

However, the Stuff the Bus campaign comes first, and Communities In Schools will be asking people to buy and donate a few extra school supplies to the nonprofit when they go back-to-school shopping for their own children. There will be drop-off bins at Walmart and possibly at Office Max, Little said. The campaign starts Saturday, although anyone who wants to donate beforehand or who doesn't see one of the donation boxes after this weekend can stop by the group's office at 211 S. Steele St.

"Everything stays here in Lee County, which is great," Little said. "And it gets passed out to the schools and families so those families can give their kids everything they need."

More information about the group's work, as well as the 2nd Chance Prom, is available at http://leecountync.communitiesinschools.org.

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WHAT: 2nd Chance Prom, a fundraiser for Communities In Schools of Lee County

WHEN: 7:30-11 p.m. on Sept. 7

WHERE: Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center

HOW MUCH: $30 per person or $50 per couple; sponsorships from $250 to $1,000