CULLER MIDDLE SCHOOL — Years of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Halloween costume creations set the foundation for Jessica Nickum to tackle her biggest challenge yet: Culler Middle School’s Ugliest Holiday Sweater Contest. The 6th-8th grade teacher was incentivized to compete by the grand prize of fancy coffee and bragging rights against her fellow coworkers.
“I had been dressed up as an elf on the shelf previously and everyone kept saying that there was no way that I would top that outfit,” Nickum said.
Nickum racked her brain to think of something creative, homemade and affordable. While looking at her kitchen Christmas tree made of tomato cage and garland, the idea came to make herself into a walking Christmas tree. Nickum bought the base of her costume, a green dress, online and small, unbreakable decorations at her local Dollar Tree.
“If I was going to wear it around students and perform my job, I would need to be fairly flexible while wearing it,” Nickum said.
Once all the materials were gathered, Nickum and her mother worked to glue the decorations on the dress while Nickum wore it.
She added, “This was the best way to know where to put things and see how it would actually look when we were done.”
The DIY masterpiece came to life, completed with red and gold garland, ornaments, bows and a candy cane headband to top it all off.
She wore the costume to school and impressed students and faculty with her creativity for the second year in a row and won Culler’s 2019 Ugliest Holiday Sweater Contest. Soon after, Nickum caught word of Goodwill’s 3rd Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest with the prize of a $100 gift card.
Some people might have thought to take the opportunity to pamper themselves with a day of shopping, but Nickum wanted to do something more with the gift card.
Nickum explained, “At Culler, we have a clothing closet that is open to all students for several different needs. Sometimes students can’t afford clothes, sometimes they have the unfortunate case of the split pants or shirt. This closet ensures that students’ basic needs for clothing are being met.”
The Junior League is the main support of the clothing closet, but staff often pitch in whenever they can. Unfortunately, at this time of year, the closet begins to go bare.
In order to win Goodwill’s contest, contestants needed to receive the most likes on their submission photo on Facebook. Voters appreciated both Nickum’s DIY skills and her generous spirit. She won the contest with a whopping 178 likes.
Nickum said, “I love what my students bring to me every day, and I sleep better knowing when their needs are being met. Giving the gift card to the clothing closet is a way to help support our kids in an economically feasible way.”
Nickum plans to buy clothing during Goodwill’s $0.99 Clothing Sale in order to get the best use out of the gift card.
She added, “We are hoping that it replenishes what we are in need of and that the closet once again looks full.”