Five Seaside High School seniors wanted to make a difference in the community through their collective Pacifica Project, so they constructed a game plan to accomplish that goal by using fashion to provide local in-need children with clothing.

After months of planning, the students put on a fashion show and silent auction fundraiser, titled Couture For Change, at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center on April 16. The proceeds from the event went to the Assistance League of the Columbia Pacific, a chapter of the National Assistance League with programs that primarily benefit children in need.

Senior Whitney McQuilliams, the event coordinator, said they considered an array of nonprofits to be the recipient but settled on the Assistance League because it is slightly more obscure and shares the girls’ passion for helping children.

Thirteen students from the high school modeled clothes donated by Ter Har’s, Eddie Bauer and other private and commercial sources. Some models also were adorned with tattoos from Seaside’s Five Star Henna. Shear Pleasures Salon and Spa provided a professional hairstyle for one model. The convention center gave the group a discount for renting the space, as the event was for a nonprofit organization, and the cost was covered by private monetary donations.

Raffle prizes and silent auction items also were donated by the community. Overall, the event had about 60 sponsors. The raffle and auction, combined with the $3 per person admission, raised about $1,780. A majority of the clothes were donated to the Assistance League after the event, as well.

When trying to set a goal for the size of the event, they were told by their community mentor, professional photographer and designer Jaime Kae Hazen, “It will be as big as you think it will be,” noted senior Madi Wirkkala, the entertainment coordinator. With that in mind, they thought big to pull off a successful event with nearly 100 people in attendance.

During the course of putting on the fundraiser, the students learned a lot about the responsibilities of creating and hosting a charity event, they said. Although it was a lot of work and quite stressful at times, they said, it was worth it.

“I had a good time with it, regardless,” said Wirkkala, who listened to about 300 songs to make the appropriate play lists for each portion of the event.

“It was an amazing experience,” McQuilliams agreed.

Whitney Anderson, the fundraising coordinator, also modeled for the fashion show. She watched several videos online to get inspiration for her runway walk and practiced a lot. She said she enjoyed modeling, and it was evident in the personal flare she displayed on the catwalk.

Senior Brooke Laws served as the fashion show coordinator and Kaylea Roberson was the auction head.

When asked if social activism is a high priority for them, Wirkkala responded, “1000 percent.” In addition to providing for those in need, she and the other girls also listed animal cruelty, oppressing or judging others, physical and mental disability awareness and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights as some of the issues they individually care about.

“If I could do anything that would make everyone be to nice to others, that would be cool,” Wirkkala said.

For more information about the Assistance League, visit or contact the organization at PO Box 596, Astoria, OR, 97103.

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