Preparing for a middle or high school dance is such a special life event, but it can be stressful for students who don’t have the money to go shopping. A group of residents is changing that by offering free dresses with Gowns for Girls.
For just over three years, Gowns for Girls has been collecting dresses people no longer need and offering them to those who do through a unique boutique hosted at a local church.
“Stephanie Brown, a teacher at Mulrennan Middle School, had a student who couldn’t afford a dress to go to the eighth-grade dance, so she took her shopping for one,” said Alicia Tew. “From that experience, we realized that there was probably a need for seniors who couldn’t afford their prom or homecoming dress.”
Tew also realized that many girls who have dresses from their proms and homecoming probably don’t use them anymore.
“We reached out to the community and the started collecting the dresses,” she explained. “It has been an amazing experience.”
The dresses are collected throughout the year and stored in a storage unit until they are needed. Dresses can be dropped off at Tide Dry Cleaners on Bloomingdale Ave. or a pickup can be scheduled by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The boutiques will be held on Saturday, March 5 and 12 at the Family Life Center at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, located at 3315 S. Bryan Rd. in Brandon, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
There are no qualifications for a girl to come and shop for a dress.
“We work mainly on the honor system,” she explained. “If a girl comes looking for a dress, we will not turn them away. We have contacted some of the guidance counselors and social workers at the high schools to help us get the word out.”
Tew would like to thank Tide Dry Cleaners on Bloomingdale Ave. Owners Barry and Sharon Wright, St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church for making the boutiques possible and the community for the dress donations.
“I spent the first year traveling around to collect the dresses from around the area when the thought came to mind to ask Barry and Sharon to be a drop-off center,” she explained. “They agreed without hesitation.”
For more information, email Tew at email@example.com.