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March 1, 2013

Formal offer: Gown giveaway helps make prom night special

NEW CASTLE — Hours after getting a free dress for the prom, several girls were already posting photos on Facebook.

A prom dress giveaway last year was a successful event thanks to Maitland Free Methodist Church and community participation. And this year, it’s being done again.

The second annual prom dress give-away is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23 at the church, which is on the corner of Maitland Lane and Old Plank Road.

Last year, more than 50 dress, and some shoes and jewelry, were provided to young women who otherwise may not have had an opportunity to purchase a gown or dress to attend prom.

“We received some thank-you cards and pictures from the girls, including one card from a mother stating she was grateful for how the event was arranged in a boutique atmosphere, giving each girl individual attention and making them special,” said Pam Miller, an organizer and church member.

One card said, “We are so appreciative; our daughter could have never gone to the prom without your help.”

The Rev. Bill Hargenrader, church pastor, recalled one girl who came in to select her gown.

“The dress looked like it was made for her,” he said. “As she stood looking in the mirror, she broke down in tears of thankfulness. This was a very moving moment for all of us as we realized the impact we were making on these girls and their families.”

Some girls commented that they were surprised at how nice the dresses were and how many there were to choose from.

One light blue vintage dress from the 1950s that was still in the original box it was stored in really caught Miller’s eye, and she mentioned there were brand new dresses and almost-new dresses.

A group of students from Westminster College also got together and donated their prom dresses, Miller added.

“There were girls from all over the county with different backgrounds and reasons for coming,” Hargenrader said. “This allowed them to attend their proms in a beautiful dress, and feeling as special and beautiful as every other girl at their prom.”

The church is again asking community members to donate new and new-like dresses. And donations of hairstyling, flowers, jewelry, tuxedos and gifts certificates to give away as prizes, will also be welcomed, Hargenrader explained. Door prizes will be awarded during a drawing at the conclusion of the event. Participants must register to be eligible.

There will be a registration and waiting area in the church, and the fellowship hall will be set up in a boutique atmosphere to view and try on dresses.

There are no financial guidelines to be eligible for the giveaway.

Anyone who would like to donate gowns or other items may contact Hargenrader at (724) 654-4979 or bhargy1959@verizon.net.

He was pleased with how well the giveaway went last year and hopes to help even more young women this year.

The event also enabled the church to make contact with a family who was dealing with some adversity in their life, Hargenrader said.

“We do this because we are God’s children. We want to share and demonstrate the love he has given to us; to those around us.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

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