CLINTON — Gateway After Prom is taking fundraising to the next level.

The committee responsible for entertaining prom-goers from four area high schools is getting a cut of the cash to help pay for GAP during events at Back Shop Pizza, Culver's and Wendy's.

In the past, the committee has taken donations from parents and businesses, said Jenny McClary, one of the organizers. This year they're earning money by working at area restaurants for a share of the receipts.

Back Shop Pizza donated a portion of sales, and Culver's will donate 10 percent of sales from 4-8 p.m. March 26, according to the GAP Facebook page.

Students from Camanche High School, Clinton High School, Fulton High School and Prince of Peace will serve at Culver's during those hours.

Businesses still give cash donations as well, McClary said. "A lot of times they'll see our fliers. They'll donate checks."

Citizens First Bank donated $700 this year, she said.The donation is part of the Citizens First First Down program that donates $5 for each River Kings first down during the regular football season, according to Citizens First Marketing Coordinator Carrie Donaire.

McClary's been involved with the after-prom for four years, but the four high schools have had the combined after-prom since the 1980s, she said.

"We've got laser tag. There are inflatables," McClary said. "Last year was the first time we did escape rooms, and that was a huge hit."

Escape-room games put players in a room and give them clues to get out. Last year's after-prom had four escape rooms and they were in use the entire night, McClary said.

The committee may give students six escape rooms this year.

"They loved it," McClary said.

Some games are more common, such as Bingo.

"Kids love that, too," McClary said. "They win free pizza."

"After they do the games they get tickets, and there's a place where you can buy prizes," said McClary.

Some prizes are donated gift baskets. Businesses also donate T-shirts, gift cards to hair salons and for services such as oil changes and tanning, and "lots of pizza coupons."

"They're pretty decent prizes," McClary said.

The committee estimates that costs for the after-prom will total $10,000-$12,000. Expenses include food, inflatables, a DJ, a hypnotist and a police officer for the night, McClary said.

The committee also wants good prizes for the end of the night.

"We quit games about 1:15, and that's when the hypnotist starts," McClary said.

At 3 a.m., before students leave, the committee will draw names for prizes, which include a flat-screen television, an Apple watch and cash.

"We try to use the money that we raise to get good prizes," McClary said.

Janet Buer's third daughter is a senior this year, and Buer is helping with her fourth after-prom.

"The goal is to have just a super-fun party," Buer said.

This year, even juniors and seniors who opt out of prom may attend the after-prom, Buer said.

"It's a fun-filled night with a clean environment for juniors and seniors and those attending prom," she said.

Though she doesn't have exact numbers, Buer said after-prom is always well-attended. The event utilizes the cafeteria, a couple of hallways, the small gym and the auditorium of Clinton High School from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

"It costs $5 to get in, but once they get in, it's all free," Buer said.

"We're having some really big prizes," Buer said, and one student from each high school is guaranteed to win a cash prize.

"The committee and the event can always use more volunteers," said Buer. "We get nervous every year that it won't continue without community support."

Monetary donations may be sent to GAP - Gateway After Prom, Box 1151, Clinton, IA 52733-1151. Questions about volunteering or donating can be addressed to Buer at (303) 570-5081 or McClary at (563) 212-1503 or by email at

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.