Mid-Columbia students display Goodwill fashions

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldApril 18, 2013 

Fashionistas don't normally shop at Goodwill Industries and other thrift stores. And they don't make their clothing from recycled cardboard or found items such as Christmas lights, old leather pants or door knobs.

But students from six Tri-City high schools did just that for the fifth annual Project Goodwill Fashion Show held Thursday at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel.

The show, a low-budget version of the TV show Project Runway, involved students in DECA and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America clubs at Kennewick, Hanford, Pasco, Chiawana, Southridge and Columbia high schools.

Teams of students in each club at each high school designed and constructed outfits from recycled materials salvaged from Goodwill Industries. This year, the categories were cardboard, Little Black Dress and -- the most challenging -- donation box.

For donation box, managers at Goodwill prowl their stores picking up things like books, old jeans, sheet music, sunglasses and other oddball items. The challenge for this category is the students must incorporate some part of each item, even if it's just a portion, into their creations.

Kennewick High School DECA senior Berenise Ramirez, 17, helped design her group's donation box outfit this year.

"The Christmas lights and door knob were interesting," she said.

But they found a way. The wire from the lights they used to give structure to the bodice of the dress. Part of the mechanism of the knob became a clasp for a clutch purse.

"What was surprising is the finished dress is a total opposite of our original idea. It was fun to see the different direction we went in every time something didn't work out," Ramirez said.

Two other Kennewick DECA teams designed their versions of the Little Black Dress -- velvet and feathers -- and the cardboard creation -- a form-fitting sheath.

This was the second year Ramirez has participated in Project Goodwill, and she wishes she'd heard of it earlier, when she was a freshman or sophomore.

"It really brings out the creativity in all of us," she said.

Project Goodwill has helped Jordania Najera, 17, a member of DECA and FCCLA at Kennewick, discover her inner fashionista.

Last year, she helped design the dresses for DECA. This year she designed all three entries for FCCLA.

"I'm so grateful for Project Goodwill; it's given me a reason to escape shy little me and express myself. I get a rush when I see outfits I've designed go down the runway," Najera said. "I am going to be a fashion designer."

In addition to designing outfits, the students serve as the models, write short scripts telling a story about the theme of their three outfits, record a musical soundtrack for the runway and run support for the event.

"They plan the event from start to finish and really learn what it takes to have a quality show," said Kami Smith, a Kennewick teacher and advisor for the DECA group at the school.

Smith finds working on Project Goodwill also teaches her students time management, teamwork, and using what you have to create something new.

"That's part of the focus of Project Goodwill -- teaching them that our retail stores are a great place to shop for lots of different things," said Marcy Fisher, special projects coordinator for Goodwill Industries in the Tri-Cities.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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