Prom Boutique offers impressive collection of free dresses
Many young ladies dream of the magical Cinderella moment when they find a prom dress that fits as if it were tailor made for them. However, not every family can afford to make that kind of dream come true. That is where the Zonta Club of Longview steps in. Its annual Prom Boutique was held Saturday, February 24 at the Longview Exhibit Building. This year attendees had over 2500 new and like-new dresses in various colors, sizes, styles and lengths to choose from for their special event.
Ashley Summers, president-elect of the Zonta Club of Longview and chairwoman of the Prom Boutique, said the project started 10 years ago when people fled to Longview after Hurricane Katrina. "One of our members had a daughter who had heard of a program called the Cinderella Project, which gave free prom dresses to those families who had lost everything," Summers said. The first year Zonta organized its own event, the group gave away 25 dresses. In 2017, the group gave away 600 dresses. This year, despite awful weather and storms, Zonta Club of Longview gave away 285 dresses to young ladies who most likely would not get to attend prom otherwise.
The dresses are not just for Longview-area girls, either. Summers said teens traveled to the event from across East Texas, northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and southern Oklahoma. Some of them came from as far away as Baton Rouge or Houston for a chance to find a dress. The night before the event, volunteers examine each dress to make sure there are no tears or stains. Most dresses at the Zonta event have never been worn and still have tags, or they've been worn once.
On shopping day, participating girls have an hour to look for a dress, with 25 girls browsing at a time. Volunteers help participants find a dress by giving them one-on-one attention, keep clothing racks organized and return dresses to the racks after being tried on. “We want girls to know that this is a place to come and really help your family and take that burden off them" states Summers. "The dresses are definitely what we do, but these ladies have the opportunity to mix with women in professional careers. There is an opportunity to have a conversation with a girl that could change her career or her life forever.”
Associates at Robroy Industries had the privilege to contribute to this extraordinary event by donating dresses as well as their time. Together Robroy associates donated over 15 gowns and 6 service hours to the event.