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It was a tough decision to choose just five chapters from the DonateMyDress.org network to receive the 2012 Purple Dress Award. Every application we received blew us away. It was incredible to see how every chapter gives their time, generosity and hearts to empower girls and change their lives one dress at a time. But, we think you’ll understand why DMD and Always decided to single out these deserving chapters. We proudly invite you to get to know the winners of the 2012 Purple Dress Award!


Princess Closet
Chicago, IL
www.princess-closet.org

Who They Are: Princess Closet collected 2,000 dresses and served more than 800 girls in 2011, working hard to encourage donations, schedule dress drives and organize Dream Day events featuring motivational speakers.  The chapter is also an advocate for higher education, creating the Princess Closet Scholarship Fund and the Princess Closet Davalos Scholarship.  Each $1,000 scholarship was awarded to a deserving high school senior who made significant contributions in their community, and demonstrated initiative, responsibility and leadership abilities. In addition, Princess Closet has partnered with Latino Fashion Week to collect dress donations, and with organizations such as Make A Wish Foundation.  The chapter was established in 2010.     

What Winning the Purple Dress Award Means to Them: “It means that our organization has been recognized for its efforts in granting prom wishes in Chicago/Illinois and the surrounding communities. It gives us a sense of accomplishment and encourages the team to move forward." --Maria Davalos, Executive Director, Princess Closet

How They’ll Use Their Grant: They’ll increase their scholarship fund and expand their inventory of larger sized dresses.


Most Memorable Experience of Last Year:
“We had a special needs girl at one of our events, and she couldn’t find a dress, which I could tell was making her very sad. I asked her to try on this black and white dress. I will never forget her face as she came out [in her dress].  I told her that she looked beautiful and she asked me if she could take the dess home. I told her, ‘Of course you can—and let’s find you some shoes to go with it!’ Having a special needs sister of my own, that experience inspired me to start reaching out each year to a special needs organization and grant their prom wishes.”


Hermitage High School/Prom Bring It
Richmond, VA
http://www.hermitageptsa.org/id54.html

Who They Are: Established in 2011, Prom Bring It collected 1,500 dresses by reaching out to local schools and businesses, and organized events to help students find formal wear.  The chapter has secured partners including local mall Virginia Center Commons, who donated a store front, and sponsors such as Epiphany Beauty, Dress Barn, Macy’s, Men’s Wearhouse, Shoe Carnival and Sports Clips, and collected gift certificates, limousine services and prizes—in addition to prom and special occasion attire—to distribute to event participants.

What Winning the Purple Dress Award Means to Them: “This is an outstanding recognition that was unexpected. The award will represent all the hard work that went into organizing such a successful event. It will help us promote our services to include so many other counties that need us. It will demonstrate to our students what can be associated with giving back.” -- Jenny High,
Scholarship Chair, Hermitage High School PTSA

How They’ll Use Their Grant: It will cover the costs of additional prom expenses—such as tickets. They will also use the money to extend the length of their events and possibly make them mobile.

Most Memorable Experience of Last Year:
“We had a young lady call me in tears because she could not afford to attend prom. She did not live in our area but I was still determined to help. One of my co-chairs called a boutique by where this young lady lived. The young lady went to the store the next day, and the store not only donated a gown to the young lady, but also shoes and accessories as well. We are not even local to this store, but we believe in making dreams come true.”


Abby’s Closet
West Linn, OR
www.abbyscloset.org  

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Who They Are: They collected 5,000 dresses and served 2,200 girls in 2011.  Among the chapter’s signature initiatives is the “Dreams Can Come True” award, given annually to a deserving high school senior and including a $1,000 college scholarship.  Abby’s Closet has also instituted a program that encourages high school girls to think beyond their prom, develop their leadership skills, and learn more about nonprofits.  In addition, the chapter, established in 2004, works to collect dress donations in all sizes, reaching out to girls through public speaking engagements and media opportunities.

What Winning the Purple Dress Award Means to Them: “We are very honored to have been selected to win a Purple Dress Award.
This award will enable us to explore options for securing more gowns in needed sizes, especially sizes 15 and up.” --Sally England,
Abby’s Closet

How They’ll Use Their Grant: Abby’s Closet will use their grant to focus on the need for gowns in sizes 15 and larger. They plan on purchasing gowns in those hard-to-come-by sizes from local retailers at deeply discounted rates. Their goal is to never have a girl walk away from their events without a dress or a negative self-image because they could not find a dress in their size.

Most Memorable Experience of Last Year: “Abby's Closet encourages high school women to think beyond their high school prom. We promote higher education and teen involvement in nonprofit work.  Abby's Closet has a 13-member Student Advisory Board, made up of students from local high schools. We’ve also instituted a "Dreams Can Come True" award that is given annually to a high school senior. The award includes a $1,000 college scholarship (donated by T.J. Maxx), and the honor of choosing the first prom gown of the year from Abby's Closet.”


Working Wardrobes
Costa Mesa, CA
www.workingwardrobes.org

Who They Are: Working Wardrobes collected over 2,500 dresses and served more than 1,200 girls in 2011.  Its signature initiatives include Cinderella for Life, an event that offers self-esteem, empowerment and etiquette workshops; a vision boarding class to prepare girls for a fruitful life beyond high school; and The 1,000 Dress Challenge, a social media campaign encouraging others to host dress drives.  In 2011, the chapter supported the Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Camp Pendleton, providing ball gowns for more than 700 women.  The chapter was established in 1991.

What Winning the Purple Dress Award Means to Them: “Working Wardrobes is truly honored to receive the Purple Dress Award and congratulates the other chapters on their success as well. We can now continue hosting events such as the D.R.E.A.M. Girls and Distinguished Gentlemen prom event and continue to provide young men and women in L.A. and Orange County the dream of attending their prom in style.” --Allyson Curtis, Working Wardrobes


How They’ll Use Their Grant:  Because they’ve been fortunate to receive a large number of donations over the years, Working Wardrobes was able to expand and provide dresses to female Marines and Marine wives in partnership with the ASYMCA-Camp Pendleton Ball Gown Giveaway. This event is over 30 miles away from the Working Wardrobes headquarters and they will use their grant money to provide transportation for their volunteers to get there.

Most Memorable Experience of Last Year: “A girl at the end of the line to go in and shop for her dress was concerned she would miss out on her perfect dress. That was not the case. She came out of the dressing room in a beautiful blue gown and was all smiles. She loved the dress and it fit her perfectly. I saw this girl transform into a beautiful young woman--it was amazing.” [as told by a first time volunteer for Working Wardrobes 2011-12 programming year].


WGIRLS INC
New York, NY
http://www.wgirls.org

 

Who They Are: WGIRLS INC (New York, NY) collected over 5,000 dresses and served 1,900 economically disadvantaged high school girls in 2011.  Signature initiatives include Giveaway Day, when girls are invited to the organization’s pop-up boutique through social workers and guidance counselors, and escorted by Prom Squad volunteers through racks of thousands of dresses to find the perfect gown.  The chapter was established in 2009, and has grown from focusing on New York City’s five boroughs to also including New Jersey and Long Island. 

What Winning the Purple Dress Award Means to Them: “Winning the Purple Dress Award is an incredible honor for our the WGIRLS.  In NYC—and around the country—we serve thousands of young women who would otherwise not be able to go to prom.  Our members work hard to ensure that Project GLAM is a huge success every year.  It is wonderful to see their efforts recognized.” - Amy Heller, Founder/President WGirls Inc

How They’ll Use Their Grant: The $5000 grant helps to expand WGIRLS Inc programming on a national level. They will also use the funds to rent additional storage space, transport inventory and alleviate the costs of marketing.

Most Memorable Experience of Last Year:  “This year's giveaway was especially moving as many of the girls were accompanied by guidance counselors and school social workers. It was wonderful to connect with them for a moment and hear their personal stories.”



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