Helping girls prepare for the prom | SLIDESHOW

ARLINGTON — The second-annual prom dress exchange in Arlington exceeded its numbers of both donated dresses and attendees from last year, which event organizers hope will benefit young women in need as they seek to dress their best for their special night.

“Last year, we got about 125 dresses and 50 girls coming through to check them out,” said Emily Peterson of “A Beautiful Addiction” Tanning Salon in Arlington, which teamed up with Trusty Threads in Marysville to collect donations for the prom dress exchange on Saturday, March 3. “This year, we saw about 75 girls come in, and we had more than 250 dresses to offer them.”

The prom dress exchange at Highland Christian School was complemented by a fashion show this year, a first for the event, featuring 50 young women who served as models for a number of the donated dresses.

“A lot of folks didn’t know about the fashion show part of it, even though it appeared in the paper, so we’ll try to promote that better next year,” said Peterson, who would like to stage the event at Arlington High School next year.

The excess dresses were donated to Arlington Kids’ Kloset, which shares the former high school building with Highland Christian School. Peterson credited various area school districts with doing their parts to support the event, as well as a host of local sponsors, who offered discounts on prom-related products and services such as beauty makeovers to go with the gently used evening gowns, shoes, gloves and purses that were available.

“Prom may be a high school milestone, but the pomp and circumstance surrounding the dance doesn’t come cheap, as many parents can testify,” Peterson said. “Our sponsors have been doing free hair and makeup, handing out coupons and supplied us with snacks and 30 gift-bags. Thanks to their support, every part of this event has been paid for, which is great, because we had no budget.”

Even the sign-printing and clothes-hangers were supplied free of charge.

“This whole thing started because I had a closet full of old dresses and girls at my salon who needed outfits for prom last year,” Peterson said. “Everybody had such a great time that, by December, they were asking me if we could do it again.”

Peterson described herself as “stunned” by the fine quality of dresses she received this year, and credited newspaper coverage with drawing so many donations.

“The first days after that story appeared in the paper, we were getting in five to 10 dresses at a time,” Peterson said. “I don’t want to say putting together this event was easy, but this community’s generosity made it a lot easier.”

Breann Smith, a junior at Arlington High School, and Victoria Kraus of Lake Stevens were among those browsing through the makeshift aisles of the Highland Christian School commons that afternoon.

“These are almost like brand new,” Smith said. “I can’t find anything wrong with them. I’m surprised at the selection too. There are so many choices here.”

Smith agreed with Kraus that, while they probably would have been able to find prom dresses within their budgets elsewhere, they doubted they would have found anything as appealing as what was available at the prom dress exchange.

“I would have had to hit the thrift stores, and it wouldn’t have been as nice as this,” Kraus said.

“Anywhere else, the dresses I really loved would have been too expensive,” Smith said.


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