Prom dress donation drive brings Maryland visitors to Red Cloud

posted on March 23, 2012

A student from St. Paul’s School for Girls in Brooklandville, MD is spending a week on campus after having worked on a sizable clothing donation drive back home.

Brandon Terwilliger, an 11th grader at the Episcopal church-affiliated prep school, learned about Red Cloud after the president of the Native American Culture Awareness Club – in which she is an active member – visited the school and the reservation a couple of years ago. Brandon also has Native American connections in her family through her mother Lane Terwilliger, who is a Technical Director with the Children and Adults Health Program Group, and whose job involves extensive work at the national level with the Indian Health Service and Direct Service Tribes, through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As Ms. Terwilliger explained, CMS works very closely with tribes and tribal health programs to implement health policy in Indian Country.

Brandon, who is spending the week assisting in the second grade class, said that her organization decided to do a prom dress drive for Red Cloud High School students after hearing about a similar campaign organized by Heather Dawn Thompson, a Harvard Law School graduate and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. To that end, they engaged in extensive fundraising to cover expenses related to the donated dresses, such as dry-cleaning and shipping costs. They ended up raising more than enough to cover these areas. When she returns to school, Brandon is going to approach her fellow club members about using the surplus funds (and doing additional fundraising) to purchase books and educational supplies for Red Cloud students.

Like Red Cloud, St. Paul’s School for Girls places a strong emphasis on service, and includes dozens of opportunities for students to fulfill their required community service hours. The Native American Culture Awareness Club, for which outreach and education of the St. Paul’s community about Native American culture are central aims, has existed for five years now. It is hoped that through the prom dress drive and Brandon’s visit, a long-term relationship can be fostered between the two schools.

In the meantime, prom season is looming. Student Activities Coordinator Carla Jasso says that the school is extremely grateful for the more than 60 dresses and other accessories donated, and that they are of exceptional quality. She plans to set up a “boutique” in the high school, and allow interested girls the opportunity to sign up for times to dress shop on their own. With only a month to go before the big day, her office is likely to be a busy place in the coming weeks.