PLANO, Texas — Prom Closet at St. Andrew United Methodist started 11 years ago with 150 dresses for 35 girls.
Since then, the number of donated dresses is staggering, as is the interest from young ladies needing a free formal dress. This year, Prom Closet boasts more than 4,200 dresses and is set to serve more students than ever.
"Everyone should have the ability to experience prom and have a nice dress," said Patricea Freitag, an 11th-grade exchange student from Switzerland.
First Sgt Charles Paige is with JROTC at Roosevelt High. He takes it upon himself to drive girls to Prom Closet as they prepare for the military ball. Paige says he's been taking this trip for 7 years.
"It re-energizes me as a teacher. It's a commitment. It's just not a job for me," Paige said.
Courtney Smithey is hoping to find the right dress for her daughter Shadow.
"We get to watch her transform from every day kid to princess for a night," Smithey said.
St. Andrew, businesses, organizations, and local groups donate dresses, shoes, jewelry, handbags and other accessories for Prom Closet, organized and operated by The St. Andrew United Methodist Women.
Devra Helffrich, an organizer, says she hears tough stories every day about families who simply cannot afford the prom. Or a story like the one she heard yesterday, from a girl who lost her father weeks ago and found her dress here.
"Instead of wearing a piece of jewelry, she's going to wear his necktie with it," Helffrich said.
Prom Closet will continue on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Prom Closet is closed on Friday.