Becoming an orthodontist is Caitlyn Kent’s ultimate goal, but at 16 she has another plan for making people smile – with elegant couture rather than metal bands.
An 11th-grader at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Kent said she has been hearing for months about how expensive it is to go to the prom. Some of her friends are saying they might not even go because they can’t afford dresses, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
“With the dress, shoes, accessories and dinner it can add up to nearly $1,000,” she said. “That’s just not possible for a lot of girls.”
So she launched Princess Treatment Dresses, a campaign to find gowns for girls who otherwise would not be able to afford them. She posted online through sites like Craigslist and put up fliers at stores and restaurants in the neighborhood of the school.
She asked people to think about donating gowns they have hanging in their closets and might not ever wear again.
She has had a generous response, she said – about 75 dresses in a wide range of styles and sizes – and she will be accepting donations through the beginning of April. Some people drop off dresses at the school, and sometimes Kent and her mother pick them up.
The original idea was to distribute the gowns among Martin Luther King High students, she said, but there have been inquiries from other schools and now Kent hopes to make prom dresses available regardless of school boundaries. She said she is looking for a place off campus where girls can try the dresses on.
“These are all pretty dresses, and a lot of them are new, with all their tags still on them,” she said.
Kent said she loves dresses with sparkles, and her favorite color is blue. Several in her collection fit that profile, but she won’t be wearing one. These dresses are for other girls. She feels lucky that her family has resources to send her to a prom.
Assistant Principal Gerard Reller said he admires the generous spirit that prompts many Martin Luth King High students to reach out to help others.
“This project is just like Caitlyn,” he said. “She takes care of people.”
When she isn’t adding to her gown collection, Kent enjoys her academic pursuits, especially in the sciences. She played volleyball last year but decided to concentrate on her studies this year.
“It really hit me that I needed to keep my academics up,” she said. “I’m going to be applying to colleges next year.”
She still plays club volleyball, she said.
Born and raised in Riverside, Kent is the daughter of Don and Lena Kent.
“I’m so grateful for all I have,” she said. “And everyone deserves a chance to feel like a princess.”
The generosity and kindness shown by the Kent is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar. Makbul Kent demonstrates that we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
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