PLANO - It's almost every high school girl's once-in-a lifetime dream, wearing the perfect dress fit for a princess to their prom.
But, in these tough economic times, many North Texans say it's a luxury that's simply unaffordable. However, a Plano church is lending a helping hand to girls who are struggling to make ends meet and make those dreams come true.
Kali Meekins said without the Prom Closet, she would have likely not been able to attend her Wylie High School prom. The outfit she put together for free at the Prom Closet would would have cost around $500.
"My parents are divorced," she said. "So, it's kind of hard for the two different incomes to come together; and here I can come and get a dress for free and it's really great."
Bonnie Dillingham lives with her aunt and struggles with finances.
"I don't work yet," she said. "So getting a prom dress is kind of a big deal."
Dillingham’s aunt, Laura Burnett, said many families simply can’t afford prom expenses.
"If it's the difference between paying the light bill or putting food on the table, prom is probably at the bottom of the list," Burnett said.
The Prom Closet was formed by a group of women from Plano's St. Andrews United Methodist Church. It began four years ago with the goal of helping 35 girls. This year, there are 1,000 dresses.
"We didn't want a young lady in our community to miss the opportunity of prom," said Jane Marshall, co-creator of the Prom Closet. "Prom only comes once in a lifetime,"
Dresses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories were all donated, most of which came from congregation members. Among the gowns are some familiar names, including Gucci, Prada and Jimmy Choo.
"It really just touches my heart," Meekins said. "It's such a nice thing to do for people. A lot of people don't do nice things any more, so this is really good for the community."
The biggest reward for anyone at Prom Closet is the smiles that light up the faces of the girls whose lost dreams were born once again.
"When these girls get a dress and it looks like it was made for them, it's just overwhelming," Marshall said.
The Prom Closet will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.