Prepping for prom

MARSHALL – They were getting ready for a special night early. But for the area teens gathered at Marshall High School on Saturday morning, just picking out a prom dress was an event in itself.

Girls looked through racks of formal dresses, and even some shoes and accessories, while paired up with volunteer assistants.

After they tried on their selections, it was on to the “pampering stations,” complete with hand massages, facial masks and makeup how-tos.

“It’s more of a big deal,” said Macey Lendt, a volunteer with Fields of Grace, one of the organizations sponsoring Marshall’s second Operation Prom Dress event. “We’re helping with makeup, hair, nails, everything.”

Operation Prom Dress provides free prom dresses and accessories, as well as hair and nail appointments, for girls who aren’t financially able to attend prom.

“We have about 32 girls signed up, but it’s open to the public,” Lendt said Saturday.

This year, girls from around Lyon, Yellow Medicine, Redwood and Murray County were among those browsing the dresses. Some were foreign exchange students who had never attended a prom before. Others came in groups from the same school. Lakeview High School students Kayla Sowards and Isabel Cerda said they had heard about the event and decided to try it out. Both found dresses they liked.

“I didn’t think I would actually go to prom, until I found the dress,” Sowards said.

“It’s nice to see how the community can come together and do something for people who are less fortunate,” Cerda said.

“They had some really nice dresses,” said Kristin Kilby, an E.C.H.O. Charter School student who came to the event with a group of classmates. “Some were more vintage, and I liked that.”

Lendt said the event was “not just about prom,” but a chance to be there for young women in the area. The morning and afternoon sessions of the event started with a short prayer for guidance and safety for the girls attending.

Lendt said community response to Operation Prom Dress has been strong.

“With the amount of support the community has given,” Lendt said, the event was sure to be a good experience for the girls. “We have some amazing volunteers.”

About 300 prom dresses were donated for the event, she said. Donations and volunteers from several area businesses also helped provide the spa treatments, alterations and cleaning for the dresses, and more.