A Wasilla High School senior is making prom more affordable for her peers while also helping students in need.

Madeline Emmi, 18, collects donated prom dresses at the Grand View Inn and sells them at a low cost.

Amid the tulle and taffeta filling the racks, one dress stands out as her favorite.

“It’s probably the prettiest dress I’ve seen, but I’m biased,” she laughed.

It’s her own sparkly blush pink dress she wore as a sophomore that she’s now donated to her own project.

Madeline Emmi in her sophomore year prom dress.

“It was started in a utility closet in Wasilla High. I was open before school and after school for students to make appointments. It was really small, I think we had 20 dresses maybe,” Emmi said.

This year she’s gathered dozens of all colors and sizes along with accessories.

The expenses add up if you pay full price for a dress, hair, makeup, nails along with dinner and transportation. Visa estimates the average cost of prom is about $900.

“I know a lot of girls can’t afford going to prom. A prom dress is a big portion of that expense. Every girl deserves to go to prom,” Emmi said.

That’s why she sells each dress for just $10 apiece.

“Some of the parents tell us they wouldn’t be able to send their daughter to prom unless they had this opportunity,” Emmi said. “And there are girls who can afford a dress, but they want to help out with the local cause.”

That cause is Project Sandwich, which Emmi started three years ago.

Every Friday, she and her friends in the student government class put together lunches kids can take home with them over the weekend.

“Each student who is in the Families in Transition program gets breakfast and lunch for free provided by the school district,” Emmi explained. “On the weekends they go home to try to find their next meal, if they can even find their next meals. This program allows students to feed students.”

Students at Wasilla High make sack lunches for Project Sandwich.

They make sandwiches for 17 students, who get the meals anonymously.

“You feel like you’re doing more than just stuff for yourself,” said senior Riley Fuller. “You’re more involved in your community.”

Money raised from the prom dress sales goes to start project at other schools. Emmi said so far five other middle and high schools have started their own chapter.

“We donate $200 of supplies and $100 cash to buy the next supply need,” Emmi said.

As the prom sale began Friday afternoon, it didn’t take long for Mat-Su Career Tech junior Carlee Krafft to scoop up Emmi’s blush beauty.

Carlee Krafft was thrilled to buy Emmi's dress for $10.

“I love this dress,” Krafft beamed. “I love the color, I love the poofiness.”

Emmi was thrilled to see her favorite dress go to a good home.

“I was literally jumping out of my seat with joy. Just knowing a dress I loved and had so many memories in is going to girl who needed a dress, fills my heart with joy,” Emmi said.

Girls will have one last chance to shop on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. at the Grand View Inn off the Parks Highway.

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