Make a Difference in 2009: Start a Dress Drive! December 31, 2008
January is the perfect time to start organizing a dress drive in your community. You can make sure girls who can’t afford the expenses of prom don’t miss their special night. With so many parents facing unemployment, free prom dresses are needed more than ever.
Last year, MyPromStyle.com (along with Seventeen, Teen, and CosmoGirl), founded DonateMyDress.org, a network of local dress drive organizations all over the US. They collect special occasion dresses and then distribute them for free to low-income girls. And they need your help gathering these dresses!
Many of you write asking how you can start a dress drive. Follow these simple 6 steps:
1. Gather a group of volunteers.
Set up a meeting with a group of friends and a mentor — a teacher or adult you respect. Do you want to create a drive within your school, or open it up to the entire community? (This may vary based on whether you live in a suburb or small town, versus a big city.)
2. Set a date and location for your dress collection.
You can host a “clean out your closet” week and encourage everyone to drop off their gently used dresses to a specific location. February or March is a good time. Your drop-off location could be the activities office at school, the community center, or local library. Make sure you get approval first.
Think of ways to spread the word about your drive. Create flyers, announce in the school or town paper, message friends on Facebook, etc.
4. Think about dry cleaning and storage.
The donated dresses may need a cleaning, so reach out to dry cleaners in your area to see if they would donate their services to the cause. If they only give you a discount, raise the extra money needed to clean the dresses through a bake sale or other fundraiser. Also, find a safe place to store the dresses until they are distributed to the girls.
5. Set your dress distribution date and location.
Choose the day you want to invite girls in need to “shop” for a prom dress. Find a location: maybe it’s the local firehouse, or a school gym on a Saturday. Set it up like a boutique, so the girls feel as if they’re shopping. Cinderella’s Project in Kentucky did a beautiful job, as you can see in this photo. Important tip: Recruit your moms or older women to staff the dress drive and be “personal stylists.” Some girls may feel self-conscious receiving a free dress from a peer, but it varies based on the person. However, if you are hosting the drive for a high school outside of your town, this might not be an issue.
OPTION 2: If you don’t want to plan your own dress distribution event, you can deliver the dresses you’ve collected to an established dress drive organization in your area. Find one in our directory here. Ask to volunteer at their event.
6. Give thanks and share your success!
When your collection and distribution is done, write to us and tell us how it went so we can share your success on DonateMyDress.org! If you really enjoyed setting up a dress drive, you may want to consider starting your own official non-profit (known as a 501c3). The Princess Project and Becca’s Closet are examples of 501c3 dress drive organizations. (This means your donors get tax returns, which can encourage them to give more.)
Good luck! You really can change the world, no matter how small, one dress at a time…Filed under: Tammy's Blog — tammy @ 8:09 am