Springtime is certainly a welcome sight after some of the record cold days we have seen this year. But along with the warmer weather, budding flowers, and spring break comes a high school tradition that is anticipated since school began last August.

Along with the warm spring breezes also comes the proms and military balls that can easily be the highlight of their academic year. But for many young women those memories will never happen for one very simple reason – the price of the dress they would wear to their formal is just out of reach.

But now for the sixth year Operation Prom Dress provides dresses to every young lady in our community who may not be able to afford one at no cost and helps provide the memories that so many of their friends will be experiencing as well.

Since Operation Prom Dress began, hundreds of girls who may have not had the chance to go to the prom have chosen from hundreds upon hundreds of gently used and new dresses.

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people throughout our community, iHeart Media, 99.9 Kiss Country, Star 104.3, and Asheville Cleaners, a great many of the girls who thought they may be  sitting at home will now be be joining their friends and classmates on prom night.

On Saturday, April first, hundreds of formal dresses will again fill the racks at the former Bon Marche’ and current Ingles Toy Store in the Westgate Shopping Center.

“It was a simple idea that took wings and moved very quickly,” tells Caroline Early of iHeart  Media Radio, who created Operation Prom Dress. “We knew it was something we wanted to do, so we contacted Eblen Charities and Asheville Cleaners, put it on the air, and the response has been amazing.”

Operation Prom Dress will open its doors from 10 AM to 1 PM,  and the  prom dresses are available to any young lady in need of one at no cost.

The remaining dresses will be kept at the Eblen Charities Waddell Client Service Center office at Westgate for anyone who may  miss the event.

Long-time friend and partner Guy Roberts of Asheville Cleaners has been cleaning the dresses since the beginning of Operation Prom Dress.

“Each year we clean hundreds of dresses that have been dropped off for cleaning,” Roberts said.

“People are dropping off absolutely beautiful dresses. We clean every one of them and bag them, and I take them to Eblen where they are distributed.”

Mitchell Tuxedos will also be collecting prom dresses and offering a $50 discount on rentals for those who bring in a dress.

Sharon Fish, graduation specialist for Buncombe County Schools, said the dresses mean so much to the young women who will be wearing them on prom night.

“The prom dresses make a huge difference,” she said.  “Some of these girls may be parents, who are working to support a child. The prom may otherwise be out of reach financially without this program.”

“When we walk into the Bon Marche building, and they see the vast selection, you can see their faces light up. It becomes a reality that just for that one special night they can be Cinderella at the ball, and it doesn’t cost them anything,” Fish said.

If you know of any young lady in need of a prom dress, or have one you would like to donate, please contact Susan Riddle at Eblen Charities at 828-255-3066 ext.21 or via email at [email protected].


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