Panhandle spirit for Sanford-Fritch Prom

Project Special Occasions founder, Betsy Parks, models one of the donated dresses.

â??Itâ??s just so sad that theyâ??ve lost everything,â?? said Betsy Parks through tears as she wiped her eyes and stroked one of the prom dresses she was standing by.

Parks started Project Special Occasions in March to offer prom dresses to young women who could not afford them. Now, in the wake of the Fritch fire, she is working with community members from all over the Panhandle to have dresses donated for the young women who lost everything this week.

â??Itâ??s a huge event for these ladies and we want them to feel like a princess. We want them to feel absolutely fantastic about themselves,â?? said Parks. â??To see that beautiful smile, just their faceâ?¦their face lights up! They walk in here and itâ??s just a wonderful glow.â??

Parks has not only spent the week working to gather dresses and shoes for the young ladies, but has been directly in the fire zone of Fritch for much of the week as well. She says while she was working in the fire zone for Borger Animal Control (where she works), volunteers have been coming to Borger, bringing dresses, setting up donations, and providing as much support as possible.

â??Itâ??s a little overwhelming for meâ?¦ How everybody comes together for everything,â?? said Parks.

She said beauticians are giving free hairstyles for the girls and make- up artists are coming in from all over the area to prepare the girls for their big night.

In Fritch, a local florist decided to provide boutonnieres and wristlets to all of the Sanford-Fritch students free of charge. The owner, Carolyn Brown, said her manager called her and through tears, asked what they could do for the victims of the Fritch fire. They quickly decided that this would be their gift to the students.

â??Everyone is affected, whether you lost something or not. This whole town is affected. My business is affected, so we just said, you know what, it doesnâ??t matter,â?? said Brown. â??Every wristlet and boutonniere is with our love to the kids.â??

Sanford-Fritch students, Matt Hatfield and Mikala Setliff, said they have several friends who have lost their homes, but believe that this event will be a welcome break for those students needing to have a little fun for a while.

â??One of my friends, she lost her house and I think this will be good for her,â?? said Setliff. â??To just forget about everything and have fun.â??

â??It means a lot. Fritch really has a big heart. You can go down the street and see all the places where people are giving out clothes and food and everything and it just surprises me,â?? said Hatfield.

Brown said she hoped that prom night would be a good memory in a week of a lot of bad ones.

â??This is a bad memory, these children are never going to forget these days, so letâ??s just see if we can put a good memory there. And I think itâ??s going to be a good night for them,â?? Brown said with a smile.