Al’Shondra Harris went looking for prom dresses this past spring.
She ended up with 150.
The Columbus High senior also collected shoes and other accessories for girls in area high schools who, because of a lack of money, might not be able to attend their big event.
“After I collected the outfits, we set up shop on Saturdays in what I called the ‘glamour corner’ in the Sara Spano Clothing Bank and the girls could come in anonymously and try outfits on.”
She said there wasn’t any crying but “there were a lot of screams of joy.”
Al’Shondra got special joy out of outfitting a homeless girl. “I didn’t know there were homeless kids in school.”
Al’Shondra wasn’t doing any crying or screaming, but she was smiling a lot Wednesday as she was rewarded for her efforts. She was at the Taco Bell on Victory Drive being honored as a “Teen Hero” by the Taco Bell Foundation For Te e n s . S h e wa s o n e o f 3 9 nationwide. The national winner, Tara Suri, received $15,000 to present to a favorite charity. Al’Shondra was one of four receiving $10,000, and the rest received $5,000.
She presented her check to the S o l d i e r a n d Fa m i l y S u p p o r t Association.
“Both of my parents, Alvin and Bettie Harris, are former military, so I thought it would be good to help the families of soldiers,” she said, clutching a small gold trophy she was presented.
Oscar Arnold, an operations coach for Taco Bell, calls Columbus home.
“It’s great to see a local girl win,” he said, shortly before handing her the check and the trophy.
“I had originally just wanted to have a clothing drive,” said Al’Shondra, who will attend Howard University in the fall and plans to be a pediatrician. She went along with an adult friend, Vanessa Harris, to stores both small a n d l a rge a n d m a d e announcements in church seeking clothes.
She got the Taco Bell honor, which is meant to inspire teens to reach their full potential, after Lora A’mor of the Fort Benning Boys and Girls Club submitted an essay about the student’s charitable effort.
A l ’ S h o n d ra wo n’t b e present to do something similar next year, but she said her mother’s sorority Zeta Phi Beta is expected to carry on.
“I’m glad,” she said, “because going to the prom, well, that means a lot to girls.”