Teen organizes stylish thank you to Neighbors, Inc.


Thrift shopping is hot with teens. Thrift is a major motivator for young fashionistas who search out name label finds for fun and fashion. Teens for whom recycling is a way of life assume that recycling wear-ables is an environmental issue. The essence of thrift shopping is that it is a grand adventure that comes with bragging rights for the shopper.

Kimberly Wilmes, a sophomore at South St. Paul High School, seized the opportunity to fulfill a “personal project” assignment and to thank a benefactor. Her project: Design-on-a-Dime, a style show featuring high end fashions plucked from the Clothes Closet at Neighbors, Inc.

Today Kim is a vibrant, beautiful, talented young woman – full of energy and ideas. When she was placed with a foster family at eight weeks of age, she was a sick infant with special nutritional needs. Her foster parents were able to obtain essential food form Neighbors food shelf. In time Kim was adopted by the Wilmes family from whom she heard the stories of Neighbors’ assistance. At Neighbors Clothes Closet she learned to spot fashion bargains. As a teen with a task, she thought to say thank you to her benefactors.

Assignment in mind, Kim imagined the possibilities – she would go back to Neighbors, this time to the Clothes Closet. At the end of the school day Kim would comb the racks at Neighbors Clothes Closet for designer label outfits. With her mom as gentle adviser Kim considered and tried racks of fashion options. She recruited classmates to advise, then model, the wardrobes. With a keen eye and a good bit of conversation they decided on image-outfits – sassy tops with bold bottoms, accessories, shoes, hats.,bags – the total look. Everything from casual to evening wear, even a bridal gown

On Friday evening, December 1, Kim, her coterie of models, including one extroverted male and some charming little girls for whom Kim babysits, strutted their coordinated stuff in the Design-on-a-Dime style show. The show was fast-paced and professional. The designer finds from Neighbors Clothes Closet were sensational – as were the prices which Kim itemized for the appreciative audience who responded with exuberant appreciation for the fashions – and the prices..

The show and community gathering were at Augustana Lutheran Church in West St. Paul. Admission was a donation of non-perishable food or personal product to the Neighbors food shelf. The food and the public poured in as the models prepped for their non-stop changes and their several promenades on the fashion runway.

Kim moderated the show with poise and aplomb that belied her youth. Likewise the models who strutted their stuff with professional panache and pride.

Kim’s gratitude to Neighbors is an inspiration – – as is her passion to save money and the environment. Kim embodies the spirit of creative volunteerism that has been the strength of Neighbors for forty years. With young people like Kim Wilmes Neighbors will continue to serve the residents of northern Dakota County for decades to come.