By Evan J. Pretzer
Wausau students are beginning to pick out gowns, suits, and other garments for graduation ceremonies. Sometimes, getting this clothing is not the easiest. Thankfully, a fairy godmother is now working on the issue at the Wausau East High School.
Sophomore Kendra Raddatz began collecting clothes for her Wausau East Formal Showcase project in November and opened up the space for those who need financial and material aid for events like prom and homecoming earlier this month. About 15 people have come in for the anonymous services to date. Raddatz, who is a Girl Scout and conceived the project to earn the organization’s Gold Award, says it comes from personal desire to help. It can be very challenging.
“Sometimes it is emotional,” she says. “I did know one girl who did not have the best situation. She was one of the ones helped the most by this and she said the politest things about this. She was super excited to go to the dances. If I was like that, I would want someone for me, too.”
Students have a number of needs when it comes to prom. Boys need suits, girls need dresses and their hair done, there are ties to consider and corsages and makeup, too. Prom dress retailer Amarra estimates in a recent report that the cost for events this year can run over $1,000 at the high end. Those costs rise every year.
Raddatz’ counselor is very proud of her for what she’s doing to help others.
“Making it more affordable for everybody to have that opportunity has been very positive for our school,” says Manee Vong-Phakdy. Vong-Phakdy is also the advisor for the prom this year at Wausau East High School adds. “I think we have been really lucky in having Kendra here to partner with us.”
Kendra Raddatz to the rescue
Once the clock strikes midnight on Raddatz’s secondary education, she hopes the initiative will be taken over by a Wausau charity and expanded across the community, similar to the Project Fairy Godmothers initiative which serves the Twin Cities area. Raddatz’s mother is impressed, but not surprised given her daughter and sister’s past philanthropic efforts. She tears up thinking about those who have helped out with clothes, service, and GoFundMe cash.
“You could tell people were holding onto these items just for the right cause,” Melissa Raddatz says. “So, to show up and for them to see her, who is the one doing this, for me to stand back as a parent and watch, you try not to be emotional but it was really just so exciting to see happen.”
The Wausau East Formal Showcase service is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., respectively. On April 5 and 6, it will be open from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday. As well, those wanting to support the project financially can do so by going to the “Wausau East Formal Showcase” GoFundMe campaign which has raised about $700 as of this story being filed.
Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. He can be reached at [email protected].