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Fashion event to raise funds for hygiene products for area students

January 1, 2019

Houston-area style lovers can check out some of the latest designs at the Strut HTX fashion event while helping local students get the basic hygiene products they need.

The three-part fashion show on Saturday, Jan. 12, at Bellaire’s Evelyn’s Park Conservancy will feature children’s pieces, local boutique items and the work of student designers.

All ticket proceeds will benefit Strut HTX, which is an organization that began in April 2018. It currently provides items like shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, pads and tampons for students in five Houston Independent School District schools.

At just 19, Emily Pennington is Strut HTX’s founder and executive director. The idea came to her when she saw a heartwarming post on Facebook about a school custodian that kept a stash of hygiene items tucked away in a closet for students to take as they needed them.

“It just hit me. I was like that was the perfect way to help Houston. What I like about it is first of all, HISD is really underprivileged. We have so many schools that really are just impoverished, and the district itself doesn’t have much money,” said Pennington. “So I wanted to find something to help the kids.”

She said she liked that the organization’s work is a simple way to help and that even limited funds could benefit several schools. A few times, Strut HTX has held donation drives asking for actual products, but mostly it collects monetary donations and purchases the items.

Pennington said for her, it largely comes down to giving the students a new level of self-esteem.

“It’s all about confidence because, you know, when you’re in high school and middle school, those are your formative years. And if you’re not going to be confident, you’re not going to do well in school. And you’re not going to do well, you know, socializing: you’re not going to make friends,” Pennington said.

The costs for monthly feminine hygiene products can really add up. Providing the products lightens one burden for their families, Pennington said.

Watching a young boy at one of the schools choose shampoo and a toothbrush over some candy confirmed to Pennington that the work she has been doing is important and worthwhile. She hopes with the funds raised at the fashion show, Strut HTX will be able to help students in 30 to 35 more schools across HISD.

Pennington designs evening gowns and had been thinking about becoming a fashion designer, but the work with her organization has shown her the business and nonprofit aspects of things. She said she is now considering a career in those areas as well.

“Just being out of high school myself, I do understand how important it is to be confident, to be taking care of yourself, and I just wanted to help how I could,” Pennington said. “It’s been heartbreaking but rewarding working with it because I’ve had kids thank me for toothbrushes and [give me] hugs for a toothbrush.”

She said she is excited to see her dresses on display at the show and also to have more more people helping out and getting involved.

The event will be 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the Evelyn’s Park Conservancy at 4400 Bellaire. Tickets are available at https://tinyurl.com/ycg28jcs and range from $10 to $50. VIP tickets offer a better seat during the show, lunch and mimosas.

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

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