Jinhee Lee, 18, almost couldn’t attend her junior prom last year.
That magical night can exact a high price on a girl’s nerves and her, and her parents’, finances.
“A lot of girls said they were not going to go because of the cost, too. I found it unfair that girls had to miss out on a night of feeling beautiful and having fun.”
A senior at Cinnaminson High School, Jinhee is an activist at heart. She has gone on missions to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua to teach English and Music, as well as having served as a volunteer aid at Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for individuals with special needs and chronic diseases.
Her response to her own prom anxiety was a prom gown drive.
Not only would it allow for girls to purchase dresses at a reasonable price ($10), but it would also allow for a profit to be made to incentivize schools to participate. The school that raised the most gowns would collect the proceeds.
Jinhee began by writing a letter to 25 local South Jersey high schools, explaining the charitable cause and encouraging them to participate in the fundraiser.
Jinhee received a response back from only three schools, but she also collected dresses from Cinaminson residents. Jinhee also contacted the local news stations and posted information about the prom gown drive on Facebook.
In total, she ended up with 167 dresses.
A number were sold at her own high school, and the 147 dresses left over were donated to Lourdes Health System’s Osborn Family Health Center’s prom gown drive, which benefits the young women at Brimm Medical Arts School in Camden, and to the prom dress drive at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jinhee currently works two jobs, averaging a minimum of 20 hours, four to five days a week. One of her employers is Jan’s Boutique, which offered her the job after she came in seeking donations for the prom gown drive.
“I was speaking to the manager about donating some dresses to the cause, and he said they’d donate three brand new dresses. After I met him to pick the dresses up, he offered me a job!”