- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than 100 formal dresses were given away to girls in Southern Maryland who aren’t able to afford such an expense at the second annual “That’s the Dress.”
On Saturday, middle school- and high school-aged girls attended the event at the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad to pick out formal dresses for upcoming school dances, including eighth-grade formal, high school prom and homecoming dances.
“Every girl deserves to look like a princess for her prom, and this event will hopefully give her that chance,” the event’s flier states.
The second annual prom dress donation drive, dubbed “That’s the Dress,” provides high school girls in Southern Maryland an opportunity to find a formal dress at no cost when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford one.
Lisa Easter, the event’s coordinator, said Monday the event went OK and not as many dresses were given away as she hoped or anticipated following the first year’s turnout, when more than 250 dresses were given away.
“I’m kind of disappointed in the turnout,” Easter said. “But we helped those who needed it.”
The remaining 100 or more dresses were donated to several locations, she explained. Thirty were given to the Solomons Nursing Center for its upcoming formal dance, 10 to 15 were given to Project ECHO and remaining dresses are going to various yard sales.
Easter said she wasn’t sure why the turnout was lower than anticipated, but she did what she could to get the word out.
Easter said Saturday she began the event because of the economy and pressure it placed on parents who couldn’t afford to buy their daughter a prom dress.
The cost of prom is expensive, she said, when the dress, hair and makeup are taken into account. Last year, Easter said she had parents coming to her, telling her they were about to lose their home, that they were struggling financially and that prom was a luxury they couldn’t afford.
At this year’s event, there were not only more than 230 donated dresses, but there were also shoes and jewelry. In addition, there were several raffle prizes, including a free hair updo from Michelangelo’s Salon, a free photo session from Photography by Cindi and free makeup application from Tia Noel.
The dresses were donated from various sources, Easter said Saturday, including Michelangelo’s Salon, which donated more than 100 dresses, Southern Calvert Baptist Church in Lusby and other community members.
Many of the gowns still have tags on them, she said, adding that there were a couple of designer couture gowns.
“It’s a good opportunity,” said Kelley Quade, who was helping her daughter, Ilyssa, 15, find a gown for Chopticon High School’s prom. “I wish I had brought a couple of her friends who could have benefited from this.”
Courtney Hamm, 16, and her mom, Aimee, of Lusby, were looking for a halter dress Courtney could wear to Huntingtown High School’s prom.
They agreed it was a good cause and that it was a good opportunity to share a dress with someone else.
After deciding on a yellow halter dress, Courtney said she would “absolutely” be donating the dress back so someone else could enjoy it next year.
Volunteer Brittany Grant of Hollywood, Md., said she saw the event last year on Facebook and decided she would help this year.
“I knew some friends who wanted to go to prom and couldn’t,” she said, adding that they couldn’t afford it. Grant said she and her sister donated several dresses for this year’s event.
Nancy Peterson, 14, and her friend, Haydee Lopez, 15, both of Lusby, were looking for dresses they could wear to next year’s homecoming dance at Patuxent High School.
“I think it’s really nice to have this available. And, it’s not for a specific group, so that’s good, too,” Lopez said.
For Ashley Ross and her younger sister, Drewann Haag, who was looking for a dress she could wear to her eighth-grade formal at Southern Middle School, it was an opportunity for sister bonding.
“I like that she can come here and find a dress and get excited,” Ross said of seeing her younger sister pick out dresses to try on and laughing that she was surprised when her sister said she wanted to wear a dress.
“She’s having a field day,” she said of Haag, and then asked, “How are you ever going to choose?”
Haag, who was holding several dresses to try on, replied, “I don’t know. I’ll figure out something.”
In the end, Haag decided on a short, silk, strapless dress, with a zebra print skirt, a black top and a neon green ribbon tied in a bow around the waist.