Inside a formal dress boutique the size of a warehouse, girls chat excitedly with personal shoppers known simply as fairy godmothers. Together the girls and their godmothers navigate aisles brimming with glittery gowns and dazzling accessories in search of a prom dress.
It’s part of a yearly program known as Giving Gowns, which offers Houston-area teen girls an all-expenses-paid prom shopping experience. The event includes a free prom dress, personal shopping assistant, accessories, lunch, travel and an empowering session with a motivational speaker who aims to teach the girls to see their own beauty.
“We believe in surrounding the girls with positivity and encouragement,” says Cassie Miller, president of the organization.
The group began more than 10 years ago by founder JoAnn Trchalek. It has since grown to serve more than 500 girls and offers more than 10,000 dresses to girls who might struggle to pay for prom. Cassie says the average cost of prom is more than $900 and can be a stressful experience for girls and their families.
“No one should have to struggle,” she says.
Motivational quotes line the fitting rooms, fairy godmothers smile and compliment the girls as they try on each dress, and on-site seamstresses make same-day alterations. The entire event centers on one premise: make the girls feel loved.
“I think every girl should get to feel like a princess. Every one of them,” says volunteer Terry Novak, a fairy godmother. “It’s so much fun to be a part of that.”
Donate your new and gently used formal gowns year-round, as well as shoes, jewelry, wraps and handbags at any Tide Dry Cleaners in the Houston area. The gowns will be cleaned and delivered to Giving Gowns free of charge.
Fairy Godmother: Much like Cinderella’s magical helper, the fairy godmothers act as personal shoppers working alongside each girl while showing her kindness and compassion.
Inventory Helper: These helpers take charge of hanging and returning unwanted dresses, shoes and jewelry to the showroom floor.
Seamstress: Got sewing skills? These volunteers offer the girls on-site dress alterations such as dress hemming, strap alterations and minor repairs. These helpers must bring their own sewing machines.
Seamstress Assistant: This assistant helps the seamstress with seam-ripping, removing broken zippers and other detailed tasks.
Café Worker: These workers plate food and serve meals to the girls and other guests.
Set-Up and Tear-Down: These men, women and teens help set up and remove the boutique including dressing rooms, tables, chairs and dress racks.