Across Oregon, prom season has begun. For many students, prom can be an expensive night. In Albany, a local Girl Scout found a way to help.
Stacie Struble, 18, began a campaign in January to collect used prom and formal dresses. Presently, a prom dress costs an average of $200 and often more. This prevents some girls from attending prom who want to. But by March 26, she had gathered approximately 220 dresses to give away to girls who could not afford to buy them themselves.
Struble, who attends South Albany High School, began advertising with fliers at both high schools, as well as through the Democrat-Herald and Facebook.
“I created an event on Facebook and updated it every so often to let people know what was going on and to get them interested in my event. I got a lot of donations from Facebook communication, and I was able to use my status updates as a way to ask people to attend the event.”
Word of mouth was the primary way of gaining donations, though. Struble recruited the help of many of her friends in both donating and spreading the word.
She also enlisted the help of the Linn County Foster Parents Association (LCFPA), particularly the help of the president, Mary Gaspard.
“Mary was such a big help to me with this project. There is no way I could have done it without her!” exclaimed Struble. The LCFPA helped by collecting dresses as well, spreading the word and obtaining materials like clothes racks and mirrors that were needed at the event.
“It was a really rewarding experience, and it was great to see girls get the dresses they deserved,” said Briana Romancier, 17. “She did great work and dedicated a lot of time to this event to make it possible.”
The giveaway took place March 26 and 27 at the Department of Human Services building. Fifty girls showed and by the end of the weekend, more than 45 dresses had been given away. Gift certificates and free haircuts at local salons were given away in a raffle. Overall, Struble deemed Droves of Dresses a success.
“The hardest part was getting the word out about the actual giveaway event and making people want to come to it. But it was really cool to see all the different dresses that came in and the girls who left happy,” recalled Struble.
In addition, Struble used Droves of Dresses as a community service project to qualify for the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts. The Gold Award requires the honoree to organize and complete a community service project of a minimum of 65 hours of her own work. Less than 6 percent of Girl Scouts achieve the award.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have Stacie be a Troop member. I have watched her grow over the last several years into such a wonderful person,” said Meegan Forster, leader of Troop 20345. “It was very successful and the project will be carried on next year. Seeing the faces on those young women made your heart melt.”
Struble will have to have an interview with the council that oversees granting Gold Awards. She will be given her honor at the Court of Awards on May 25.
Kevin Rackham is a former Young Voices writer and a student at South Albany High School.