By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington community is once again coming together in memory of DePaolo Middle School honor student Kristen Warner, who died in a 2004 car crash at age 13. Each year, Southington Youth Services (SYS) partners with the high school administration, volunteers and supporters to host Kristen’s Kloset.
The event helps provide students with financial assistance for junior and senior proms, along with an array of prom gowns and accessories.
“This program provides the prom experience for everyone, regardless of the ability to afford it or not,” said SYS director Christina Simms. “Prom is a special time for high school students, and we always want to lend support where it’s needed.”
Warner’s family wanted to remember her legacy in a special way, Simms explained. The annual program has continued to expand year after year – so much so that this year, it will be held in the freshman cafeteria at the Southington High School in order to make it more accessible to students and families.
In past years, Kristen’s Kloset has been a pop-up business, filling donated storefronts that moved from year to year. With the high school location, officials have decided to offer the program for one weekend, Friday, March 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Volunteers will be available to assist students, along with a seamstress to help with fitting.
“This is for the students,” Simms said. “It’s so rewarding to be able to help them and to see the excitement on their faces.”
Kristen’s Kloset features a collection of over 500 new or gently-used prom gowns, but they also provide smaller collection of prom accessories, such as shoes and jewelry. Vouchers for gowns and accessories may be obtained by high schoolers from their guidance counselors.
But it’s not just about the girls. In recent years, Kristen’s Kloset also helps boys with prom expenses, such as tuxedos and flowers. SYS partners with Modern Formals on North Main Street. Vouchers are provided for tuxedo rentals.
The Youth Services department also offers assistance for purchasing prom tickets by working with the senior and junior prom advisors at the high school.
Kristen’s Kloset operates solely on donations of gently used prom gowns and accessories as well as cash donations. The event is open to any high school student across the entire state, as long as the student provides a student identification card. Students from over 50 towns have benefited from the program.
The high school is located at 720 Pleasant Street. The most convenient parking is located in the back of the school near the varsity baseball field.
For more information on obtaining financial assistance or on making a donation, call Southington Youth Services at (860) 276-6281 or visit them on Facebook.