WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Prom is a major milestone for high school students, but finding the perfect outfit can be a costly challenge. The Pando Initiative, a non-profit, is working to ease that burden with its thrift shops located inside Pando high schools.

“They’re not really sure about what it is until they walk in,” said Marissa Esparza, a junior at North High.

Inside the shop are racks and racks of dresses and suits, giving students plenty of options for prom.

Getting ready for prom is another process.

“Prom is very expensive. You have to worry about the cost of a dress, a suit, shoes, hair, and make-up,” Esparza said.

“When I was in high school, we had a really hard time finding a dress because of financial reasons,” said Sandra Sanchez, North High’s Pando student support advocate. “It’s the reason a lot of our students are not able to go to prom and have that rite of passage.”

The Pando Initiative eliminates that barrier by offering formal wear – free of charge.

“These suits were like brand new, and it would’ve cost, I saw the tag, and it cost like $200-something, and getting it for free was like really surprising,” said Daniel Rodriguez-Hernandez, a senior at North High.

With more than 6,000 donations, the nonprofit is reaching more students.

“We have been able to distribute that to the three Pando high schools along with 13 other schools across the metro area to make sure that kids who need a prom dress or need a suit have one,” said Pando Director of Development Angela Kessler.

“You can see the excitement on their face just looking at the dresses because they know that they’ll have the opportunity to go to prom,” Esparza said.

The store suits students with more than an outfit. It presents them with a chance to make memories.

The Pando Initiative offers the closet year-round. They even offer other necessities like deodorant, socks, and even food.

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