Prom season is right around the corner and every high school girl deserves to feel like a princess on the big night.
But not everyone has the means to dress like one. That’s where the Oxford Public Library and Hope Closet come to the rescue and play fairy godmother.
From now through the end of March, the library is serving as a collection site for Hope Closet.
Folks are encouraged to donate formal dresses along with accessories such as shoes, purses, wraps and jewelry. Plus-sized dresses 14W and larger are especially needed.
All items must be either new or gently used, clean and in keeping with current fashion trends. Donations are tax-deductible and receipts will be provided upon request.
According to Alissa Bach, a librarian in the teen services department, “all sizes” and “all styles” of dresses are welcome, except for anything that would be considered too revealing or inappropriate for a high school function.
“We’re looking for anything that would be worn for prom or homecoming, even old bridesmaid dresses,” she said.
Hope Closet’s mission is to provide young ladies with the dress of their choice, regardless of financial constraints or limitations, so they’re able to attend high school events and not miss out on the chance to make memories.
For one week in April, Hope Closet operates a special boutique where girls can browse the selection of donated items with a personal shopper who helps them pick out the perfect dress, plus one accessory.
“Everything is free,” Bach said.
Girls must show proof they’re currently enrolled in high school and be physically present at the Hope Closet boutique. Parents cannot shop for them.
Girls who attend Oxford High School are welcome to do their shopping early instead of waiting for the boutique.
“If an Oxford girl comes in (to the library) and brings her (school) ID, she can look through our collection right then and there, and take what she wants,” Bach said. “It’s more convenient for them.”
Bach is more than happy to assist Hope Closet and can definitely see the need for the service it provides.
“Prom is such a big thing and it’s becoming bigger and bigger every year,” she said. “After you buy the dress and the shoes and the jewelry and the matching bag and the wrap, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars – maybe a thousand. That’s pretty expensive.”
To Bach, one of the most memorable moments in the library’s partnership with Hope Closet occurred about five years ago. A teenage girl came to the library with her mother and immediately gravitated toward this “bright yellow dress” hanging on the rack, so she went into the restroom to try it on.
“She came out and it was like the dress was made for her,” Bach said. “She was so excited. She was glowing. Her mom was just thrilled.”
“That made me feel really good. We felt like we really helped this young lady out,” she added. “She probably wouldn’t have been able to get a dress like that otherwise.”
The Oxford Public Library is located at 530 Pontiac Rd. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The library is closed on Sunday.