Abby’s Closet, a Portland-based all-volunteer non-profit, does a couple of wonderful things. Their mission is “to inspire confidence and respect in high school women by providing free formal gowns for prom and other memorable events.” They give out free dresses and accessories to high school aged young women so they can have the prom that they dreamed about. The dresses are great quality and the service at the dress distribution event — according to girls that I know who have participated — is kind, compassionate and FUN! They also offer a scholarship to one young women who they feel “embodies the spirit and mission of Abby’s Closet.” Although they started in Portland, organizers now contact all schools within 150 miles to make sure that young women know about the give away.
Abby’s Closet was founded by daughter/mother team Abby and Sally Egland when Abby was cleaning out her closet in preparation for her departure to the University of Oregon. Abby didn’t just donate her dress, she decided to round up a group of volunteers to collect donations to provide many girls with dresses. That project has morphed over the last 9 years and now thousands of girls have benefited from her idea. To really lift your spirits, view this wonderful Abby’s Closet slide show by Portland Monthly Magazine’s Mary Saunders (2009).
This year’s gown giveaway will take place March 16-17, 2013 at the Oregon Convention Center. The only requirement is that girls show their high school ID. Girls arrive early in the day and are given a number and an approximate time that they will served in one of the comfortable “salons”. Adult helpers will assist girls in choosing the perfect gown. Girls will also be allowed to select one accessory to help complete the outfit.
“Dreams can come true” scholarship will be awarded to one young woman who plans to attend the 2013 Gown Giveaway. The $1000 scholarship is sponsored by T.J. Maxx. The winner of the scholarship will also be given the opportunity to choose the first dress from among the selection. Applications are due February 18.