First Baptist Church of Norristown is like a fairy godmother.
This weekend, the church will host its , at which hundreds of prom dresses and accessories will be handed out, free of charge, to any girl from any school.
FBC Pastor Kelly Legg said the idea to collect prom dresses already in people’s closets and distribute them to girls who might not otherwise be able to attend prom, was born a few years ago out of the church’s proximity to the local high school.
“It started very simply. We’re across the street from , and we’re very aware of how difficult the economy has been on parents and families especially,” Legg said.
After the first year of collecting and giving away prom dresses to NAHS students, FBC decided to open it up to any girl from any school. Since then, the giveaway has grown exponentially, both in the number of donations and in participation.
“The first year, because we really just did it at NAHS, we weren’t sure what we were getting into, and we had about 40 girls [show up,]” Legg said. “Last year, we had about 130 girls, from here, there and everywhere. This year we’re hopeful we’ll see far more.”
And with a week to go before the event, FBC has already exceeded last year’s dress collection, with donations still coming in.
“We have far outgrown the space that contained 600 dresses last year,” Legg said. “Our guess is we have 700-800 dresses, it just keeps growing. Now we just need the girls to come”
In preparation for the girls, bathrooms and nursery school classrooms have been converted into dressing rooms, with standing mirrors. Because the congregation is acutely aware of the financial issues folks are facing these days, the church wants to give more than just the prom dress.
“We’ve painted a background, and it looks like you’re walking into a boutique,” Legg said. “We tried very hard to make it feel like you’re walking into a store, to give you the experience of going in and picking out the perfect dress.”
In addition to prom dresses, FCB is also collecting and distributing shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories; just about everything a girl could need for prom night. This year, the church will also have a number of seamstresses on hand at the giveaway, who will offer their tailoring services for free.
“We’re trying to make it as comprehensive as we can,” Legg said.
Any dresses left over after the giveaway this weekend will be passed on to another church.
“Last year, we had some leftover dresses, and we were contacted by a church in Kensington,” Legg said. “We sent them about 150 dresses, and they [hosted their own giveaway] in downtown Philly. We hope to do the same thing this year if there are leftovers.”
FBC will accept donations through Thursday, March 22. Then organizers will begin on Friday morning setting up for the giveaway.
The giveaway at First Baptist, 445 Burnside Avenue in Eagleville, begins Friday, March 23, from 6 to 9 p.m., and wraps up Saturday, March 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. No RSVP or appointments necessary, dresses will be given on a walk-in, first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, or to schedule a time in case you can’t make it during the scheduled times, call the FBC at 610-539-7075 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.