Two local women are dusting off their magic wands in preparation for the fourth annual opening of The Prom Closet this spring.
Georgia Mixon and Anne Etheredge are once again organizing this special opportunity for high school students in the area who might not be able to afford formal wear for their proms. The Prom Closet is a community outreach project sponsored by First Presbyterian Church and United Community Ministries.
The two “fairy godmothers” are requesting that the community come forth with clothing and accessories to donate, including prom dresses, shoes, jewelry and handbags, as well as tuxedos, shoes and accessories for young men. They will then be organized in a shopping area of First Presbyterian Church which will be set up like a store for those who qualify to participate.
“We have had great community support,” Mixon said, “and we are counting on the generosity of the greater Rocky Mount community to come forth with items that will make it possible for some young man or woman to feel appropriately dressed for their high school formal dance.”
She wanted a quiet, dignified way for girls and boys in our community to find pretty dresses and tuxedos to wear to their proms – those who might not go because they are not able to afford prom clothing. The First Presbyterian women’s group and church leaders have heartily supported this effort; it is their mission to reach out to youth, and they strive to find innovative ways to be relevant to the community.
Mixon teamed with fellow church member, Etheredge, and Chris Battle, of United Community Ministries, to create a way to identify candidates to be recipients of the donations. Case Manager Debbie Suffern helped make contacts with school personnel throughout the local high schools who helped provide invitations to those whom they thought would be interested in visiting the Prom Closet.
Last year they were able to help students from many schools in the Nash/Rocky Mount and Edgecombe county schools.
Battle has been working on an expanded clothing assistance that would use referrals from social workers. He sees teens in need every day coming through the shelter and Bassett Center, a transitional housing facility for homeless families.
“These teens have huge worries on their shoulders about having a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear on a daily basis,” he said. “We don’t want their station in life to prevent them from having what their classmates who are more fortunate may have.”
“We are handling this with dignity and confidentiality. Our hope is that they feel they have gone shopping and bought a special gown,” Etheredge said. “It is our ministry to the community to let these young people know that there are Christians who care about them and want them to be part of this important rite of passage.”
Organizers are asking for new and gently used dresses, tuxedos, tuxedo pants, tux shirts, tux ties, studs cummerbunds, handbags, jewelry, hair accessories and anything else a young man or woman may need for the prom. Donated items can be taken to First Presbyterian Church, located at 153 N. Church Street, on Monday through Thursday. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information call (252) 985-0078.