Santa Rosa teens to sell 200 prom dresses for $20 to benefit Meals on Wheels

Teenagers at Santa Rosa High School raise money for Meals on Wheels by selling brand-new prom dresses for just $20.|

Two hundred sparkly and lacy dresses arrived at Santa Rosa High School via U-Haul Tuesday morning, hanging neatly in 19 cardboard wardrobe boxes.

“Students who can’t afford a dress — we want them to feel their best, look their best,” said Tyler Wallace as he and his friends and classmates unloaded the boxes in front of the school.

Wallace, who is a junior, is raising money for the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program by selling brand-new prom dresses donated by Macy’s for only $20 to fellow teens eager to return to normal after the pandemic-induced cancellation of proms and other school functions.

Students who can’t afford to pay for a dress will have their costs covered, “no questions asked,” he said.

Wallace is the president of the Student Leadership Alliance, a student-run club at the high school. Seeing how tough it was for the elderly who were extremely isolated during the peaks of the pandemic, he told his dad he wanted to do something to support them.

Wallace’s dad, Wally Wallace, suggested his son’s club hold a fundraiser to benefit the Council on Aging, a nonprofit which delivers meals to the elderly and works to reduce food insecurity in Sonoma County.

Macy’s, which has a long-standing relationship with the council, donated 200 dresses, which were surplus from the past couple of years when proms were canceled, said ​James DeVore, a local physician who is on the council’s board of directors.

“I think it’s a win-win,” DeVore said. “It’s not only students fundraising for Council on Aging, but students get to practice their organizational and leadership skills.”

The students raised the money to rent the U-Haul to transport the dresses and did a presentation for the council, Wallace said.

Cole Ouimette, Wallace's 15-year-old neighbor on McDonald Avenue, heard about the fundraiser and wanted to help.

“I saw how much (Meals on Wheels) helped my grandma over the pandemic,” Ouimette said. “So, I thought ‘what better cause than to help give food to older members of the community who can’t get it themselves?’”

Others connected to the Wallace family and McDonald neighborhood have joined the effort, according to Wally Wallace. They include John and Jennifer Webley, who own McDonald Mansion; DeVore, the local family physician; Frank Pugh, the longtime former Santa Rosa City Schools trustee; and Lawrence Amaturo, founder of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group LLC.

The dresses will likely be sold around spring break. Because Macy’s sent more than one of the same dress, the identical ones will be sold at other schools so no one shows up at prom wearing the same outfit, Wallace said.

“Wow these are actually pretty nice,” said principal Kimberly Clissold, checking out a blue and purple floral dress, “It’s got a pretty train on it.”

“I know from my own personal experience with two stepdaughters, that proms and homecomings can be very, very expensive,” she said. “It’s usually a couple hundred dollars.”

Clissold said she was overjoyed by the teen’s efforts to provide families at the school with an affordable option in these “rising gas price times.”

Katie Brumbaugh, 17, also a member of the Student Leadership Alliance, said she was surprised by the sheer amount of dresses Macy’s donated.

“I didn’t think there would be this amount of prom dresses,” Brumbaugh said. “I think they’re really pretty, so people are going to really like them and with the prices, it makes it an equal opportunity to enjoy prom.”

Wallace said to reach out to their club’s Instagram account @srhs_leadershipalliance for prom dress inquiries and donations.

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or On Twitter @alana_minkler.

Alana Minkler

Education Reporter

The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering education, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.

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