COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Students at Eau Claire High School just found out they're being treated to a huge surprise for their upcoming prom.
Going to the high school prom is supposed to be a pretty dress, a tuxedo, flowers, food, music, dancing and hanging out with friends. For too many students, it's a worrisome time because they're consumed with how to pay for it.
For the juniors and seniors of Eau Claire High School in Richland County School District One, this is going to be a prom like no other.
"I'm really excited for us it's a once in a lifetime thing. I have never had this happen nor have I saw this happen before," says Christian Lorick, a senior at Eau Claire.
Usually, the students at this Title 1 school have to fundraise in order to go to their prom. Sixty percent cannot afford the $80 prom ticket.
"This a dream come true really because I was wondering how I was going to pay for the prom," student Brian Cain said.
But this year, Belk department store is stepping in. They're covering the students' tickets, formal wear, the venue, food, flowers, accessories, and even hair stylists.
"We have had this 130-year history not only of our company being around but also our partnership with our communities and quite frankly this is an amazing way to give back," Belk Regional Vice President Jaime Valdez said.
As part of their recently launched outreach program called Project Hometown, Belk is visiting local communities to make a memorable impact. One that greatly lightens the load on a student's and his or her parents' wallets.
How much do you think it costs to go? Research groups looked at the average expenses for prom. The prom ticket ranges from $35 to $80 on average.
- Prom dress - $250.
- Alterations - $30.
- Shoes - $40 - at a minimum.
- Jewelry - $30.
- Nails - $50.
- Hair - $60.
- Makeup - $35.
- Tuxedo rental - $100.
- Corsage / boutonniere - $20 each.
- Dinner - $75 a couple.
- Transportation - $40.
- Grand total - At least $785.
"This has never happened to Eau Claire before and from what I understand, it's not happened to any other HS in the state so it's one opportunity for our students to one less thing to worry about as the school year ends," Principal Neshunda Walters said.
Thursday's announcement of the tab being picked up by the department store means the celebration of Eau Claire's upcoming prom has already begun.
In addition to prom, Belk also will donate clothes and book bags to the school's closet which was built to provide items for students who may not receive them elsewhere.