Grand Island YWCA stuffed with hundreds of prom dresses

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — A spacious closet at the Grand Island YWCA is filled with hundreds of ballgowns arranged on shelves by size, tufts of taffeta and shimmering highlights peeking out from between the formal dresses.

When new, many of these dresses probably cost well over $100 – an extra cost that some youngsters can’t spare. The specialist website PromGirl indicates that the total cost for a young woman going to prom can range from $175 to $2,100.

Grand Island YWCA is making the special night more accessible by providing a personal shopping experience for high school students who may not have the extra cash for a dress. The mYnight boutique not only offers a dress, but a personalized shopping experience for financially challenged prom goers.


Grand Island YWCA Empowerment Programs Coordinator Marissa Cornelius led the event, scheduled for March 5 and 6, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the YWCA gymnasium.

“For me and other adult women, when we think back to high school, we think of the big events that impact our lives…watching basketball games, or our first crush, or especially prom,” Cornelius said. “I think financial hardship shouldn’t affect a student’s high school experience.”

The dresses made available at mYnight Boutique have been donated. Cornelius said sizes 0-16 are plentiful, but there is a particular need for larger sizes.

“Anything over (size) 16, we have maybe 20 or 30, which is crazy about all the dresses we have. I don’t want a girl to go without a dress because we don’t have not his size.

Donations of accessories like shoes, small purses and jewelry are also being sought, Cornelius said. “When you’re in financial difficulty, you’re not only able to provide a dress or buy a dress, but also shoes, jewelry or clutches – anything you might wear to prom.”

Childcare rooms are being turned into special changing rooms, so full-length mirrors and a soft measuring tape are required. Even decorations to make the event extra fancy are accepted, along with light snacks for volunteers, Cornelius said.

Thirty volunteers in total are still needed for this special day, as well as people to help set up the day before. Girls can sign up for time slots, and a volunteer will be available as a personal shopper. Volunteers can sign up for a three-hour spot.

“We are asking people over 18 and women not to be peers,” Cornelius said.

Students at any high school in Hall, Hamilton Merrick and Howard counties, who receive a free or reduced lunch, or whose families are struggling financially, are eligible. The event will not require any income verification, however.

Some make mYnight Boutique even more special by making it a girls’ night out, Cornelius said. “I have a lot of moms who sign up their kids. I have a mom who brings her daughter and her son’s girlfriend. It’s just kind of a fun event for the family to do together.

Having fun and feeling fabulous is what prom is all about, and no one should miss the experience because of the money, Cornelius said. “We hope for a full shopping experience, as we don’t want anyone to feel left out, uncomfortable or different from any other girl.”

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