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Teens use fashion to bring hope to poverty-stricken reservation

GLEN ELLYN – When Shay Kiker of Glen Ellyn attended summer camp with her middle school church youth group almost two years ago, she heard something that stuck with her. Camp leaders challenged attendees to unite their passions and burdens to do something positive.

With that in mind, Kiker and her friend Hannah Jackman used their interest in fashion to plan a fashion show and gently used clothing sale to support the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in February 2012. The second annual Project Pine Ridge Fashion Show and clothing sale will be Friday at Glen Ellyn Bible Church, where the Glenbard West High School freshmen serve as members of the church’s youth group.

“It’s been really exciting to use something we love to help other people,” Jackman said.

This summer will mark the fourth time the middle school youth group at Glen Ellyn Bible Church has visited the Pine Ridge Reservation for a mission trip.

The reservation struggles with poverty, alcoholism and unemployment, and many residents there do not have electricity or indoor plumbing, Jackman and Kiker said. The youth group has helped residents in the past by working with Hands of Faith Ministry, which provides vocational training and other services to residents.

During previous mission trips, church youth group members have rebuilt or repaired houses, helped with a soup kitchen and collected wood for households because many require fires to keep warm without electricity, the teens said.

“We, as DuPage County, being one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, have so much to give,” Kiker said. “If the reservation was made into a county, it would be the poorest county in the entire nation, so we thought it was cool that we could give the excess we don’t even think about.”

This summer, the church’s high school youth group will complete a mission trip to the reservation for the first time, overlapping for one day with the middle school group. Because Jackman and Kiker volunteered there as eighth-graders, this will be the second time the girls have been there.

Proceeds from the fashion show and used clothing sale will go to the Hands of Faith Ministry. Last year, the event raised $5,500 for the ministry. This year, the girls hope to surpass that amount.

The fashion show will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Glen Ellyn Bible Church, 501 Hillside Ave. Tickets cost $10 and will be available at the event, which is open to all community members.

Almost 3,000 clothing pieces have been collected for the show and sale, and Jackman and Kiker are charged with putting together about 40 outfits for the show with the help of fellow designers Emma Goebbert, Claire Wild and Grace Zemnack.

Jackman and Kiker also have collected donated clothes and raffle items, designed the show program, painted stage backdrops, planned the technical aspects of the show and publicized the event.

In addition, the girls are active at Glenbard West, participating in cheerleading, the JKB anti-drug and alcohol club and of course, Fashion Club. Jackman also plays lacrosse, while Kiker is a member of the track team.

With all their extracurricular activities, working on the fashion show sometimes has gotten pretty crazy, especially in the past month, Jackman said.

Kiker said they usually have sports practices after school, and then they do homework when they get home. As soon as that’s over, it’s time to get to work on the fashion show.

“We’ve just been over at each other’s houses and helping out and trying to get every little bit in we can,” Kiker said.

Fashion show models include girls ranging from 2 to 18 years old from schools throughout Glen Ellyn and Wheaton.

The outfits featured in the show, as well as the other donated items, will be available for purchase at the end of the night. Prices are expected to range from about 25 or 50 cents to $5, Jackman and Kiker said. Some jackets may cost $10 or $15.

The event will include raffle prizes and refreshments, too, and the used clothing sale will continue from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.

The fashion show will feature musical performances and a talk, all focused on hope, which is the theme of this year’s event. Last year, the theme was beauty.

“Last year, we didn’t really plan on having a theme, and then we started seeing all these really awesome clothes come in and all these cool raffle items and how fun it was and what a beautiful night it turned into, so then that worked out to be a great theme,” Kiker said.

But this year, the theme of hope was intentional.

“Hope just came to us because after being at the reservation last summer, we realized that hope was really what they needed,” Jackman said.

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