ONE BY ONE: This is an overview of the front racks of 200 dresses that Jessica’s Closet had donated to them by Macy’s. Jessica’s Closet works to get dresses into the hands of high school students that may not be able to afford them. (Jillian Grimes)
ONE BY ONE: This is an overview of the front racks of 200 dresses that Jessica’s Closet had donated to them by Macy’s. Jessica’s Closet works to get dresses into the hands of high school students that may not be able to afford them.

Jillian Grimes

Rebranded, renamed, reinvented: ‘Jessica’s Closet’ launches in Carlisle

February 27, 2022

The perfect dress is one of the many elements of a student’s school dance experience. The cost of dress for a dance, especially prom, can averagely range anywhere from $100 to $600 and some can sell for even more, as said by PromGirl, a prom plan/budget guide and online prom dress and accessory store. This doesn’t take into account the cost of tickets, accessories, transportation and more expenses of the dance experience. The average cost of prom all together comes in prices ranging from $110 to over $2,000 depending on how all out some families are willing to go. Some families can barely afford the tickets to prom let alone a fancy dress and all the extra costs going into the event. 

Jessica’s Closet overview and importance

Jessica’s Closet is here to help.

Jessica’s Closet is the rebranded and renamed version of the CHS’s Cinderella’s Closet program that was held at the high school. In January of 2020, Betsy Richwine had contacted C-Luv Thrift to see if Mary Carlton and George Kretzing, the owners of C-Luv Thrift (20 N. Hanover St, Suite 102), had an interest in taking up the program for themselves and incorporating it into their store. Carlton had immediately wanted to help the program stay up and running. 

Related: Share the ‘Luv’: Small business owners give back to the community

She took this opportunity to not only provide students with dresses but to also honor her niece, 18-year-old Jessica Snook, who had died a few years before due to SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.

“Dressing up was one of Jessica’s favorite things to do! Thus, the name change,” said Carlton. A large portion of Jessica’s closet is to also educate people on SUDEP, as even Jessica’s mom had never heard of SUDEP before Jessica’s passing.

Shortly after Carlton’s and Kretzing’s adoption of Jessica’s Closet, national retailer Macy’s contacted Carlton with over 200, new with tags, dresses that they were donating to Jessica’s closet. She had also received 300 dresses from the previous Cinderella’s Closet, but many were not “Prom Worthy”: damaged or simply out of style, and they are working with Delta Nu, a sorority at Dickinson College, to pull these dresses out of stock. These will be sold at a later date at C-Luv; the dresses will go for very cheap and all proceeds will go towards getting Jessica’s Closet dresses dry-cleaned and altered if necessary.

Currently, Jessica’s Closet dresses are being stored at New Life Community Church, (64 E North Street in Carlisle); and for the time being, helping Carlisle students find a dress to wear to school dances, homecoming, winter ball and prom, for free, but plan to branch out to other local high schools, along with the possibility of working with the International wives from the Army War College so they can attend Military Balls without too much expense. They have a variety of short and long dresses along with a variety of styles, patterns, and colors, with sizes ranging from XS to 1XL.

Jessica’s Closet is hoping to hold their first event at the end of March, and after that one before every school dance; the event would entail not just the dresses but jewelry and shoes being available as well. Some of Dickinson’s Delta Nu will be involved to aid students with the decisions of how they want to do their hair and makeup, with local businesses involved, like salons and makeup artists.

“We will also be asking for donations of gift certificates for some local salons and restaurants to be used before the dances,” said Carlton. 

Jessica’s Closet also hopes to try and assist any student that is in need of suits, ties, or shoes for dances. Currently, they plan to do so with the merchandise they have on hand at C-Luv Thrift.

Contact C-Luv with any further questions on the Jessica’s Closet program at their email [email protected] or on their Instagram or Facebook

Get to know the person behind the name: Jessica Snook

Jessica Snook passed away on October 30, 2015, at the age of 18.

Jessica Snook

“Jessica was sweet and loving and all about the present – the past and the future had no hold on her,” said Kathi Snook, Jessica’s mom. “She woke up with a smile on her face (well, most days). She looked for joy in every minute of every day. Sometimes that meant not wanting to do things like homework or chores, but there were plenty of things she loved to do: going to school (mostly for the social aspect), time with friends, playing video games, watching scary movies, and dressing up in a fancy dress and high heels.” 

“After Jessica wore her first bridesmaid’s dress and heels for her brother’s wedding, there was no stopping her,” Snook added. “She wore her bridesmaid and prom dresses to birthday parties, to go out to eat at restaurants, and at home for family dinners. Even after a few twisted ankles, there was no occasion too casual for Jessica’s choice of outfit. If we hadn’t drawn some line, she would have worn an elegant dress and heels to school every day. Jessica taught us many lessons in her short life:  be yourself – enjoy every day – live in the moment – see the goodness around you – don’t sweat the small stuff (and sometimes don’t sweat the big stuff either).”

With Jessica’s condition, her primary disability was not a seizure disorder; she had cognitive impairment. Jessica’s family did not know at the time cognitive impairment is a risk factor for SUDEP. While having no primary risk factors for SUDEP, she had been diagnosed with a seizure disorder at a young age, also a secondary risk factor. 

SUDEP Awareness

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) refers to deaths of individuals with epilepsy where their death was not caused by injury, drowning, or other known causes, according to the CDC, with most cases happening with individuals suffering from uncontrolled and night seizures. Most cases of SUDEP happen either during or right after a seizure. 

Related: The Beat Goes On: The Peyton Walker Foundation offers free screenings

There is not much research into SUDEP, due to it being rare. 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy dies of SUDEP every year, meaning that in the US about 3,000 die of SUDEP every year. The main thoughts to the causes of SUDEP are complications due to breathing changes and heart rhythm changes and/or a mixture of both. Many cases are in adults 21 to 40 years old. One of the best ways to prevent SUDEP is to self-manage epilepsy, take medication on time, get enough sleep, and avoid epileptic triggers, along with making sure your family and friends know seizure first aid.

Life of the Party

With Prom season approaching quickly (CHS’s prom being on April 29), C-Luv had their first “Jessica’s Closet Party” event with the help of Dickinson’s Delta Nu sorority. The party took place on March 27 at New Life Community Church in Carlisle.

They had dresses, the makeup and hair station with a makeup artist, and an array of jewelry and shoes to try on with the gowns. Integrated in with party they also had brochures for SUDED awareness along photos of Jessica wearing her beautiful gowns.

“It was wonderful!” Carlton said. “We had only 4 or 5 girls from CHS come last Sunday, but we had 14 girls come all together.  All 14 left with a brand new or gently used gown!”

Carlton went on the C-Luv thrift Instagram to thank all of the people who helped out with the party.

“Thank you to everyone who helped make the day special!”

Another, more low-key, event is scheduled to be held on Sunday April 3 from 4pm to 8pm, without decorations and all but are still welcome to try on dresses and take one home.

Next year with their events, starting with Homecoming, L-Cluv plans to send invitations to all local high schools, the YWCA and CPS. The key is to give invitations to schools and programs that can determine whether the participants do have a need for the program.

“While we would love anyone to come get a free dress- maybe we will get there one day- in the hopes of having more people reuse and recycle, we can currently only focus on girls who have a financial situation that might not otherwise allow them to go to a formal dance due to the cost,” said Carlton.

It’s Time to Re-Luv!

Jessica’s Closet received many dresses that were brand new or gently used but they were also given a few dresses that were not up to par with “prom-worthy” anymore, either being out of style, ripped, or tainted in some way. The material of these dresses, the fabric, and beading are perfectly fine but the dresses are just not of interest for wear anymore.

So instead of just throwing these dresses away, C-Luv is reselling these materials at discounted prices for crafting projects and any other design needs.

On Sunday, April 10 from 12-3 pm, C-Luv is holding an event called Re-Luv in the hall next to C-Luv Thrift (20 N. Hanover St.).  In addition to leftover Jessica’s Closet dresses, C-Luv will also have an $8 suit sale along with sales on other menswear, a bucket of denim for $2 an item, quilting and sewing fabric for $3 a section, along with other fabrics or items that are unsellable in the store will be available for $1.

All of the proceeds of Re-Luv and any other additional donations will go towards Jessica’s closet to help with more racks and events.

Updated 4/7

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