By Josette Keelor
Prom is still more than a month away, but area teenagers already are planning every moment of the night. Although many know what they'll wear and how they'll pay for everything from makeup and accessories to photography and transportation, some girls are stuck on the problem of not having a dress.
Winchester resident Dorcas Sturgill, co-creator of the area nonprofit Gowns for His Glory, said she and Bethany Searfoss of Frederick County have made it their goal to help local teens attend prom, no matter their financial situation.
The nonprofit is in its second year, and last year, Sturgill said, "We had no idea how many girls to expect." They collected more than 300 dresses, with help from local schools that had a surplus from previous programs no longer in production. Donations also included shoes, purses, gloves and jewelry.
The giveaway took place for two hours on a Thursday evening, Sturgill said, and an hour before opening, "we had a line down the sidewalk."
About 60 girls showed up that night, she said, "And every single one of them [left] with a dress that fit them."
This year's giveaway will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 at the Shenandoah University Brandt Student Center's second floor Ferrari Room in Winchester.
"We're thinking more people will have chance to come," Sturgill said. "We're hoping this year will be just as successful."
The idea began when Sturgill and Searfoss, clothing manager for Congregational Community Action Project, thought about how not everyone would be able to afford all that goes with the expectations of prom.
"We all know prom is one of the most expensive events in high school," Sturgill said. After working in the school system for 15 years, she said she understood the community's need. She knew girls who needed help might be too embarrassed to admit it, so she planned to help in the least intrusive way possible.
"And we just started collecting dresses and give them away to girls who want them and need them," Sturgill said. Collection sites are set up around Winchester, Frederick County and in Leesburg until April 13.
The organization is not affiliated with any particular church, she said, and having no financial backers, "We just rely on the lord and on the good people in the community."
The organization has received other donations too, like vouchers for pedicures and manicures to give to area teens, but Sturgill and Searfoss have been footing the bills for storing and cleaning the dresses.
"We have tried to get some dry cleaners that might donate some services," Sturgill said. "We have not been blessed with that."
"We clean them the best that we can and we steam them and have them pressed," she said, so they'll be "beautiful when the girls come to get them."
Drop-off locations for dresses, shoes, accessories and other prom-related items or gifts are as follows:
Gowns for His Glory will hold a dress giveaway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 at the Shenandoah University Brandt Student Center in Winchester. For more information, call 540-662-6252, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit facebook.com/gownsforhisglory.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or email@example.com>