Belk store foots prom bill for Knoxville high school seniors

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Belk Department Store Foots Prom Bill For Knoxville High School Seniors

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

High school seniors at an eastern Tennessee high school received the ultimate gift for their senior prom next month.

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A Belk department store in Knoxville is footing the bill for all prom expenses, WBIR reported.

During an SAT assembly Thursday at Austin-East High School in Knoxville, seniors were told by West Town Belk store manager Patrick Dunbar that the store will cover the costs of their tickets, dresses, formal wear, shoes, accessories, hair styling and makeup for the school's April 26 prom, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Senior Camiah Wilson said the announcement was a "like a blessing falling down."

"This is very great for not just me but everybody that just needs help or just doesn't want to pay for prom or be stressed out about prom," Wilson told the News Sentinel.

Belk's gesture is part of the company's Project Hometown outreach program, the newspaper reported.

"This year, Belk is stepping in to cover students' tickets, formal wear, venue, accessories, hair stylists, and for the first time ever, Austin-East seniors will not have to fundraise to attend their own prom on April 26," the company said in a statement, WATE reported.

Dunbar said the average cost of prom for students is $800, and the company calculated that 65 percent of students at Austin-East cannot afford that figure, the News Sentinel reported.

"Belk got with Knox County Schools, and found out that Austin-East was a Title I school ... so that was kind of a no-brainer for us to choose this school," Dunbar told the newspaper. "We could really make a difference here."

This is the first prom that Belk has sponsored in Knoxville,according to the News Sentinel. The company covered expenses for a prom last year at a school in Columbia, South Carolina.

"Prom is a big part of the high school experience, sort of a right of passage for seniors," Austin-East Principal Nathan Langoils told WBIR. "Them doing this and the fact all of our seniors will be able to attend prom is great."

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