Last-minute dreams found in closet |

Last-minute dreams found in closet

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Kim Riggs, homeless advocate for the Carson City School District, puts the finishing touches on the prom dress of Shanda Combs, 17, at Carson High School on Wednesday. Combs was not planning on attending the prom until Riggs came through with a dress and prom ticket.

Shanda Combs, 17, stopped in at Carson High School’s infirmary Wednesday morning because of stomach pain.

An hour later, she left with a prom dress, shoes and purse, prom tickets, a $50 gift certificate for dinner, a tux rental for her boyfriend, free photos at the prom and a boutonnière and corsage on order.

“I’m really happy,” she said. “I wasn’t planning on going because we didn’t have the money.”

Combs was lying on a bed at nurse’s office when Kim Riggs, homeless advocate for the Carson City School District, brought in more than a dozen prom dresses donated to her through the district’s clothes closet, and began to hang them up. Within minutes, Riggs had Combs up and trying on a burgundy, floor-length dress.

“What size is it?” someone asked.

“I don’t know, but it fits,” Combs smiled. “I like it. I want it.”

A nurse called Combs’ boyfriend, Chris Martin, to the office. The senior seemed totally surprised to see his girlfriend dressed in a flowing gown with a matching shawl draped on her shoulders.

“I had a feeling I was coming in here because of you,” he told her. Then he looked at Riggs, “Now how exactly am I going to the prom?”

Combs’ dress was dropped off less than a week ago by a former Carson High School student, who had worn it as a bridesmaid.

“These are all donated by the community,” Riggs said. “When I put out that we’re in need of prom dresses, people start bringing them it. I just got the (burgundy) one last Thursday. It came in and went out the door within a week.”

The rest of the dresses were given out to girls throughout the day, specifically those who want to go to the prom, but can’t afford a dress. One recipient was kicked out of her house by her mother not too long ago.

“A lot of these (girls) come from families that don’t have the money,” said Carson High School guidance counselor Cindy Watty. “This girl was asked to leave her mother’s home several months ago. She has rent to pay, grades to keep up, and she wants to go to prom.”

Prom package money was donated by John and Paula McKenna, the Carson City Soroptimists and Joan and George Wilkerson. To donate clothes or money to the closet, behind the district offices at 1402 W. King St., call Riggs at 283-2020.

n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.