Reese Witherspoon donates to teacher aid fund after free dress giveaway backfires

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After Reese Witherspoon's fashion brand Draper James struggled to keep up with the demand for its free dress giveaway for teachers after receiving a million applicants, the actress is ramping up donation efforts to help educators in need.

Witherspoon donated to nonprofit DonorsChoose in cities across the U.S., Page Six reported.

“The donation from Reese and [her fashion line] Draper James will support all of our highest-need teachers in New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville, and many more throughout the country," a rep for the charity told Page Six.

The rep said educators will get funding for “resources such as books, notebooks, pencils, art supplies, activity kits and food, all shipped directly to their students’ homes."

A representative for Draper James did not return FOX Business' request for comment.

The donation efforts come on the heels of Witherspoon's Tennessee-based brand's giveaway on April 2, saying it would send free dresses to educators to thank them for their work during the coronavirus pandemic. But, the company didn’t anticipate the flood of applicants it received.

Reese Witherspoon-owned clothing brand Draper James faced backlash for underestimating demand for its free dress giveaway. 

Draper James prompted educators to apply online, and said those who won would be notified the next week “while supplies last.” However, the business, with 30 employees and a plan to distribute just 250 dresses seemed to underestimate the more than 3 million teachers in the U.S.

The dress application form cashed almost instantly as teachers shared the Instagram post viewed more than 400,000 times with colleagues, according to The New York Times. Draper James has nearly 1 million applications, and seven times the total number of dresses they sold last year, the Times reported.


Teachers who submitted their work emails and photos of their schools expressed their disappointment.

“Originally they made it seem like all teachers were getting it, their advertisement was completely misleading,” Vanessa Stam, 27, a teacher who works in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, told FOX Business on Thursday.

Stam applied to input her school email and other information and was told she would be contacted for her sizing. However, instead of a dress, she said she received a discount code for 30 percent off. And with dresses costing $78 to upward of $200, she opted out.


“I was disappointed," Stam said. "It was such a nice gesture, but unrealistic and yet another let down for teachers, especially after all of us lost our spring breaks."


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