Students affected by Harvey receive free homecoming dresses

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

HOUSTON - Many schools are back in session and students are looking forward to homecoming season, but because of Harvey many families may be strapped for cash to buy a dress.

That is the reason Reagan Celeya, a sophomore at James E. Taylor High School in Katy ISD, came up with the idea to collect more than 250 homecoming dresses to give to students displaced by the storm.

Her motto: If it fits, it's free.

"I came up with the dress drive to help those who couldn’t afford it or even have time or thought about it," said Celeya who is also a volleyball player. "I think it’s very sad, but it makes me more than happy knowing that I can help them.”

The number of donated dresses grew to 400 after teachers from Memorial Parkway Junior High used their day of service to have a dress drive.

"We wanted to make sure that all the girls could still go to homecoming," said Melanie Beisert a teacher at Memorial Parkway.

The "Pop Up Shop" opened on Sunday at Taylor High School and about 30 girls came out.
They had a second event Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.

“It gives them a sense of normalcy. I mean, they want to go out on their day-to-day lives and that’s what we want to do as teachers in Katy ISD. We’re all working together to make sure that we’re giving them that the stability they want to have," said Beisert. “It’s horrible, the whole city of Houston and the surrounding areas have been hit so hard by this storm and we’re going to want to give to other schools."

The dress drive is warming the hearts of both parents and students.

"I am grateful. As I'm walking through, I'm just thanking God, just thanking God the whole way through," said Jemimah Starr.

She and her daughter, Breasia, moved from Kansas City two weeks before Harvey dumped an unprecedented amount of rain in the Houston area.

Their apartment flooded and they lost everything.

"I don't have no money and we don't even have a roof over our head, so to keep her going,
this has helped us a great deal," Starr said.

Her daughter is a sophomore at Katy High School and has never gone to homecoming before.
Starr said she never went to her homecoming and doesn't want the same thing to happen to her daughter.

"At first, I wasn't going to go to homecoming because I didn't have a dress and because of the flood and everything. We don't have any money or anything to provide a dress so I'm very thankful that people donated jewelry and dresses," said Breasia.

She found her perfect outfit: a silver sequined party dress with silver pumps and necklace donated by Charming Charlies.

"This is perfect," said Breasia as she giggled about her new find. "And the shoes match perfectly. Don't it?

Two dress racks over in the lobby of the competition gym, a similar story for another Katy High School student unfolded.

"It was sad because it was a lot of water and we had to evacuate and had to stay at a family's house," said Aaliayh Vanda, who is a sophomore at Katy High School.

She too was able to find a dress.

"We're kind of short on money right now because of what happened and looking for furniture and looking for somewhere to move and I think this will help her out a lot," said Aaliayh.

Katy High School's homecoming is Sept. 23 and Ceyela said she hopes to have another pop-up homecoming dress shop between now and next week.

She also hopes to get more dresses for students at other schools in the district, along with Houston and even Florida.

Around 15,000 students were displaced because of Tropical Storm Harvey.

If you want to donate dresses, teachers are still collecting them at Memorial Parkway Junior High
at 21203 Highland Knolls, Katy, TX 77450.

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