Planned in less than two weeks, the Fort Worth community came out strong for SFWI’s inaugural dress drive.
I love dresses. Always have. For me, buying a new dress is fun and exciting, and when I wear that new dress to a party, wedding or charity event, I feel like a real-life Cinderella.
Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for many women and young girls. Because of financial concerns, shopping for a special-occasion frock can be fraught with stress, anxiety and even fear.
However, my hope is that at least some of these good people will be able to say yes to a beautiful dress thanks to the efforts of several friends who helped me pull off the inaugural “Your Dress, Their Dream” dress drive. Y’all, we collected more than 350 dresses – many of them brand new! – plus special occasion shoes and jewelry, which were divided up and sent to three local nonprofits that specialize in providing free and affordable gowns to those who need them most.
Collecting all of these gowns was a true community effort and truly awe-inspiring. A real God thing. The energy and excitement I felt from everyone who pitched in was incredible. My friends and neighbors were on fire – and OMG to the anonymous woman who donated a gown with the multi-thousand dollar price tag still attached!! – as were the contributions of people I didn’t even know. So many people throughout the community saw my social media posts and answered the call!
HOW THE PROM DRESS DRIVE BEGAN!
The drive exceeded all of my expectations. Then again, I really had no idea what to expect because I was just trying to clean out my closet. It all started when wardrobe maven Bonnie Smith came over to my house to help me to make sense of my closet chaos. We realized that I had a ridiculous number of dresses I would never wear again. My instinct was to keep them all, even though, let’s be real, I couldn’t even fit into half of them. Thankfully, Bonnie was there to hold the line with a kind yet firm “nope.”
I decided that if my gowns had to go, I wanted them to find good homes — homes where they would give some other lucky girl the same Cinderella moment they had given to me. That’s when we came up with the idea for me to host a dress drive and donate my dresses, plus any more we might be able to collect and donate to a yet-to-be-determined nonprofit organization.
WHO WE SUPPORTED
Oh, but there was one catch. Because of our schedules, we had only two weeks to make it happen. I launched into party-planning hyperdrive.
I immediately polled my Instagram followers and asked about local organizations and nonprofits that distributed dresses. Then, I researched the suggestions and that’s when we settled on three amazing groups
Prom Dreams Boutique: Run by University Christian Church, this boutique is open all September to provide high school students with a dress, shoes, purse, and jewelry, completely free of charge.
We’re All About The Dress: This nonprofit provides gowns for military, police and EMT brides (with military/service ID), as well as prom dresses for teens in need. They also offer dresses to the public with a suggested donation. (All the money goes to pay rent and utilities for the boutique’s North Richland Hills storefront.)
Ruby’s Runway: Founded by several girlfriends of Stephanie Bolton, the adoptive mother of a baby named Ruby, who was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, this new, local nonprofit hosted a dress sale to raise money for research and awareness of this rare genetic disorder.
LET’S HOST A PROM DRESS PARTY
As soon as we got those ducks lined up, we designed a digital invitation and our powerhouse hostesses helped spread the word.
Of course, my readers know how I feel about parties – it’s not a party unless you bring in the balloons, desserts, flowers, champagne, and more desserts. And that’s exactly what we did! Stand-out munchies came from Hurley House and Blue Bonnet Bakery, and I even whipped up one of my signature charcuterie platters. The finishing touch came courtesy of an inspired blend of budget-friendly décor items I sourced from my tried-and-true roster of go-to’s, Dollar Tree, Party Warehouse, and Dollar Hydrangea.
No sooner had my front doors opened, women started rolling up in their cars filled with dresses! A small army of high school volunteers helped unload them and hang everything on racks set up on the front porch. I truly couldn’t believe my eyes as the racks just kept getting filled. The generosity that unfolded that day was truly magical. Everyone had a genuine, joyful heart of giving. We had a table set up for jewelry, handbags, shoes and makeup, and people who actually didn’t have anything to donate went out and purchased new stuff for this drive.
It was so successful that the only question on everyone’s lips was: When are you doing this again? To which I answer, stay tuned to So Fort Worth It. Because next year, y’all, it will be even bigger and better – thanks to you!
PHOTO CREDIT: Laura McCarthy / Elusive Images