By Hannah Courtney, Contributing Writer
High school prom is one of the most important milestones in many girls’ lives. It’s a time filled with date finding, new hairstyles, getting make-up done, and prom dress shopping.
For some girls, however, what should be enjoyable quickly turns stressful when they’re unable to afford the expenses that go hand-in-hand with the most expensive part of prom: the dress. A survey done by the Patriot Press Blog shows that 33 percent of girls spend $201 to $300 on their prom dress and 31 percent spend $101 to $200. West Liberty University’s Rogers Hall aims to lend a helping hand to those in prom dress need this year.
Rogers Hall is running a prom dress drive for Becca’s Closet, which is a countrywide organization that collects lightly used formal wear and gives them to those that otherwise couldn’t afford it. This includes those who are low in finances, or have experienced an unfortunate and costly tragedy in their lives.
Although it’s a charity, it functions much like an authentic prom dress shopping experience. “You get to pick. It depends on the locations. I went to one of them to donate dresses a long, long time ago,” said the Hall Director of Rogers Hall Jordan Hayden.
“And it’s kind of like a storage room, but they have various dresses in different sizes. So first you have to find something that fits. After that if you have a few options they’ll let you pick whatever style and things you like. So it’s really nice. It’s not just like ‘Oh, here’s a dress, wear that and be happy’.”
For Hayden, the organization hits close to home. “My mother had cancer when I was in high school. She’s a survivor, but it was a very stressful time in my family. At that point my family had already purchased a prom dress, but Becca’s Closet reached out. Just the fact that they took interest in it was always very nice to me.
“I did have friends in high school that really did have to take advantage of that opportunity and I mean Becca’s Closet let them go in and look around and shop like they’re getting a dress. I always felt kind of a personal connection to it after they reached out and said ‘We’re not saying you need the help, but if you want the help we would love to give you a dress’.”
According to Hayden, this project all started during RA training this year. “We (decided we) want to do a community service project. Over Christmas break, I had really thought about what kind of charities can an all-girls’ building do. I figured that there’s really nothing better than a building full of over 100 girls to donate some prom dresses, because everybody has probably at least one that they’re never going to wear again. So we figured it was just a really good fit for us as a building.”
The organization wasn’t only chosen for the appropriate all-girl theme, however. It also comes from a place of passion in Hayden and the other RAs. “I think that, that’s one memory that has really stuck with me from high school; my memories of getting dressed up, and going out to dinner, and going to prom. I feel like that’s something that every girl should feel.
“I know that as a building we all think that (prom is) something that you don’t get back after high school. How many people do you know that may not have been able to go because they couldn’t afford it? A lot of the biggest expense for a lot of girls is the dress. And if you can take that financial worry off them and let them have a good time for a night, especially girls that may be supporting their families and things like that, I think that’s such a great gift for someone.”
The drive expanded campus wide, though, when Hayden realized this was a project the entire campus would be interested in.
“We decided to take it campus-wide because we figured if we have that many in our building who knows who else on campus? I’ve actually gotten dresses from professors’ wives and from some of the librarians. It’s definitely been something that a lot more people in different areas (have participated than I expected).”
Donators can rest assured that their contributions are actually going somewhere. Hayden said she personally drops the dresses off at a Becca’s Closet location near her home in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Donations will be accepted until Thursday, March 22. Hayden’s ultimate goal is to collect 150 dresses and the dorm has already collected 52!
Anyone interested in making a contribution and helping her see the big 150 can take their formalwear to an resident assistant on duty at Rogers Hall or contact Jordan Hayden at firstname.lastname@example.org.