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ND high school student makes prom dress out of 9,000 pop tabs

Gretchen Ivers, a junior at Thompson High School, wears her prom dress she made out of pop tops and blue ribbon. She plans to donate it to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, Minn., after she wears it to prom this weekend. (Submitted Photo)

THOMPSON, N.D.—A high school student is taking recycling pop tabs to another level for prom, and it's all to bring awareness to the mission of the Ronald McDonald House.

Gretchen Ivers, a junior at Thompson High School, spent 26 hours and used 9,121 pop tabs to make her prom dress. Another six hours and nearly 400 tabs went into her accessories, including a purse.

"It was pretty scratchy at first, so I ended up adding a fabric liner under it," she said. "It's actually pretty comfortable."

Ivers plans to wear the dress to her prom Saturday at Thompson High School. Then she will donate it to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, Minn.

"I have shown some people (the dress), and they've just been blown away," she said. "Honestly, I have been too. I did not think it would work out and become the product it has."

The idea popped into Ivers' head about a year ago when her mother saw a picture of a dress made of pop tabs. The student has experience in making chainmail, she thought making a dress using the same methods could work.

But the dress has a deeper meaning for Ivers, too. Her cousin's infant son, Braxton Cords, was born premature and has been in and out of the hospital since he was born. She said doctors are not sure why Braxton was born early, but they gave him a year to live.

Now Braxton is 1½ years old, and though he is in the hospital, Ivers said she is thankful for the time she has had with him.

What stuck in her mind was how Braxton's parents were able to stay near his side because they could stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester several times. The dress was a perfect way for her to bring awareness to the Ronald McDonald House and its help for families.

"I thought this would be a cool way to make a statement and be able to tell people about the impact the Ronald McDonald House has had for me," she said. "It really has been an awesome experience."

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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