The 7th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas will become the place of dreams Saturday morning as high schoolers from across the city pick out prom dresses at no cost to them. This is the library’s fourth year offering its “Fairy Tale Closet.”
"And it's kept getting bigger and bigger as things in Texas do,” laughed Melissa Dease the Youth Services Administrator for the Dallas Public Library.
People from across the city have been donating once-used or slightly-used prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and even wedding dresses at library branches over the past year. The best of the best are now sorted by size, along with a wide selection of shoes, purses and jewelry in a 7th floor meeting room. Library staff and volunteers worked through the day on Friday to build makeshift changing rooms for the Saturday morning event which is expected to draw more than 100 young women and their families.
The dresses are offered free of charge to any high school student who signs up for the event. The pre-registration and waitlist for the event is full. But library staff say they will try to accommodate as many walk-ins as they can.
"People really understand that rite of passage that is going to the prom. And they understand how expensive it is,” said Dease.
"The only requirements that we have is that you have to be in high school and you have to need a dress,” she said. “And what I find really touching is the moms because the moms that come with them you know that they're thinking how am I going to pay for this. So they feel good that they're able to do this for their daughters."
"Finding a dress is already an emotional experience in itself. But for a student who may be low income who needs this dress, it's even more impactful,” said Monique Christian-Long, the Teen Program Coordinator for the library.
"I can tell a lot of parents have cried on the phone and said you know I'm grateful I'll be able to come, I didn't think I was going to be able to get a dress for my daughter. And those moments are what makes it worth it to continue to put this program on every year,” Christian-Long said.
"I can understand you know that if a child really wants to go to the prom but they don't have the money to go, it could be devastating. So, having this opportunity is a great one."
"We know that at the library we make a difference in people's lives. But this is something that you see it right then. You see it immediately and that makes you feel good,” said Dease.
The Dallas Public Library will open its Fairy Tale Closet from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday March 11 at the Central Library, 1515 Young St., 7th floor. For more information you can call the Fairy Tale Closet at (214) 670-7943. Some of the dresses available are also highlighted on Twitter and Instagram @dallaslibteens.