Arts & Leisure

Feel great in a beautiful prom dress — for free

It’s been a difficult couple of years and Rebecca Hanley wanted to do something nice. As a member of the Middlebury Rotary Club, she and a fellow Rotary member Judy Brown decided to organize “Boutique Day.”

What is it?

Well, together with Hanley’s mother, Judy Hanley, these ladies are collecting prom gowns and dresses to give to high schoolers who need something to wear.

“Everything is totally free,” Hanely explained. “There’s no money, just people donating gowns, shoes and accessories to those who need them.”

The idea came from Hanley’s sister, who’s part of the Junior Welfare League in South Carolina. 

“She’s been doing an event like this for 20 years,” Hanley explained. “I’m always looking for ways Rotary can get more involved with the community, and who knows, we might continue doing this?”

The event is for those who either do not want to or cannot afford to buy an expensive gown or splurge on accessories for prom. Hanley is also working on getting donated gift cards for restaurants and hair salons as “consolation” prizes for those that don’t find what they are looking for, so they don’t come out empty handed. 

Round Robin has offered to do minor alterations, and Buy Again Alley will take the dresses on consignment after they’ve been worn for prom.

“Girls can spend a lot of money on prom dresses and can’t return them normally,” Hanley said. “Tuxes are different, those can be rented and returned.”

So far, Hanley has about 30 dresses donated. 

“They are absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “We have a variety of sizes from petit to plus sizes, and they’re really beautiful.”

Hanley is accepting donations for the event through Friday, April 1. Anyone with dresses, shoes or accessories appropriate for prom, can drop them off in Middlebury at Neat Repeats, Buy Again Alley, June Bug and Round Robin during their business hours.

Hanley said she particularly needs more shoes and accessories.

Boutique Day will be held on Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Co-Operative Insurance building on Colonial Drive in Middlebury (that’s off Washington Street east of the five corners).  The gowns are going to be set up on racks, the accessories and shoes will be out on tables. There will be a changing room and all guests can bring a plus one to help them out. Hanley also plans to serve refreshments (doughnuts/bagels/coffee in the morning, pizza in the afternoon). 

Guests will be welcomed by invitation. To get invited, simply email Hanley at [email protected] or call her at 802-989-1720. Initially the event was geared toward Middlebury Union High Schoolers, however, those from surrounding towns can contact Hanley to inquire too.

“Prom is a special night,” said Hanley, who attended her prom at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland back in 2007. “And even though it’s been a tough couple of years through this pandemic, it’s still nice to feel great in a beautiful gown. This is simply an effort to show our kids that we see them and want to do something nice for them.”

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