A Texas church has made it easier for hundreds of girls to participate in their high school's prom night by allowing them to choose a gown from among thousands on offer for free.
St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano held its 13th annual “Prom Closet” event last month, where nearly 800 girls were able to select the gown of their choice among 4,000 dresses that were available, along with accessories, including jewelry, shoes and purses.
Devra Helffrich, a member of the St. Andrew United Methodist Women group who helped found the event in 2009, told The Christian Post that “it felt great to be back this year,” as they'd had to cancel last year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I speak on behalf of all in the St. Andrew United Methodist Women group as well as our additional volunteers when I say that one of our favorite things is watching the girls react when those doors open to a room filled with a rainbow of colors of dresses in every size,” said Helffrich.
“It is pure joy. Additionally, to see their faces light up when they find that perfect dress is priceless.”
Helffrich also told CP that they had girls come not just from the local area, but also elsewhere in Texas, as well as the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma and New York. Two exchange students from Germany and Poland also came to the event this year.
“As each girl arrives for her appointment, she is greeted by her own personal shopper, a volunteer, who assists her throughout the process,” she explained.
“After gathering a selection of dresses to try on, she is escorted to her own dressing room — one of 20 available. Once she selects a dress, she visits our boutique area where she may select two pieces of jewelry as well as shoes and a handbag.”
Volunteers made a special appeal for donations in January and February, although they also received dresses for the event all year-round, Helffrich added.
“All items are donated by community and church members, businesses, organizations and local groups. Some of the dresses have never been worn,” Helffrich said.
“Girls may keep all items they select, but often those who received their dresses from Prom Closet return to donate them back so that others may enjoy them.”
St. Andrew’s Prom Closet traces its origins to 2009 when the congregation’s United Methodist Women chapter was looking for an idea that would serve as their annual mission project.
At the time, one of the leaders of the group had a daughter who worked for a local school district and saw that many girls lacked access to prom dresses due to financial constraints.
For their first Prom Closet event, the group collected 300 dresses and had 35 high school girls attend. In later years, they served around 1,000 girls at their event.
“The Prom Closet has proven to be a wonderful outreach program for the church — an uplifting program that lets young women and their families know that they are cared for and loved. We can confirm that not only is the need great, but the impact the dress makes on the girl and her family is immeasurable,” said Helffrich.
“Prom is a special time of life. Girls are finishing high school and are becoming young ladies. Through Prom Closet, we give each girl a special Cinderella moment.”