Dress drive gives back to the community

As prom season approaches, girls around the city buy dresses, shoes and purses. But not everyone is fortunate enough to have the money to purchase these items. The goal of the Prom Rack is to offer prom wear for children in the foster care system. Many businesses around Westlake help fund and organize the event, including David’s Bridal and Westbank Dry Cleaning, which helps to dry clean the donated dresses.

“The Prom Rack event is 10 years old this year and was started for children in the foster system, but it has grown to include a community event as well,” Westbank Dry Cleaning owner Angie Charnes said.

This organization was started by former foster kid Gigi Bryant, who also started the organization Write to Me, which encourages kids to write their feelings and send them to her. Many businesses around the Westlake area are involved and help both Write to Me and Prom Rack.

“When I met Gigi and discovered her mission for foster children, I was immediately connected to her vision,” Charnes said. “Westbank [Dry Cleaning] is committed to giving back to the community. Collecting, cleaning and storing the dresses for Prom Rack is such a great fit for us.”

The Westlake High School Student Council and the National Charity League (NCL) are also involved in helping Prom Rack.

“The National Charity League is a partner with the group as well and they help assist the girls as personal shoppers during the boutique day as well as help transport dresses to the event and sort, set up and clean up,” Charnes said. “They have added much needed “woman” power to the event.”

Although people get excited about prom, some might not understand the significance it holds for children in the foster system.

“Rites of passage, like going to prom, might not seem like a big deal to most teens,” Charnes said. “For children in the foster system, it can mark a success that can keep them motivated to stay in school,” Charnes said.

Prom Rack is a great way to give back to the community and help others. Although donating to Westlake High School is no longer an option, David’s Bridal offers 20 percent off for anyone who wants to buy a prom dress there and leave it to be picked up.

“I see prom as a given, but getting dressed up is really a privilege, and I am just grateful to have the opportunity to try and make other girls feel great on their big day,” Student Council member Katelyn Connolly said.