April Carr Kelly of Greenville wants to make sure some deserving Pitt County high school girls are able to attend their proms in lovely dresses.
So April, a 24-year-old regional facility services specialist for Cintas, asked her Facebook friends to donate their gently used gowns and came up with an acronym to describe the sort of young lady she wants the project to assist: GLITZ, which stands for Gifted Ladies of Integrity, Tenacity and Zazz.
"I've always wanted to host a prom dress giveaway," April said. "I've competed in several pageants over the last 8 years and, as you can imagine, I've accumulated several gowns that I no longer have a use for.
"For a while the idea of a giveaway was just that. It wasn't until a co-worker shared with me that she was having difficulty searching for a prom dress for her daughter that I revisited the thought -- and this time took it a few steps further and put the idea into play."
April used Facebook to launch the GLITZ Prom Dress Giveaway -- and through the magic of social media connections, the project expanded quickly.
"It all started as a simple status post advising friends that I was collecting prom dresses to donate to a few girls in the Pitt County area," she said. "I immediately was contacted by a friend who graduated with me from Farmville Central High School 7 years ago. She was super excited about what I was doing, which triggered something within me to turn this into something bigger. We shared thoughts and ideas and from that very moment GLITZ was born."
It's a simple yet powerful idea that can impact those who give AND those who receive.
"The response has been overwhelming in every positive sense of the word," April said. "We've received dresses from New York, Texas, and have one shipping now from Seattle!
"We've also received a lot of support from our community. Several people, both strangers and friends, have donated anything from dresses and monetary donations to mini photo sessions and hair/beauty services!
"We are still accepting dresses and all things prom," April said. "That includes accessories, heels, beauty services, and monetary donations. Contact me directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org."
How are the girls chosen for the dress giveaway?
"We are reaching out to the general public as well as the students, faculty and staff at the six Pitt County high schools included in this year's giveaway. As we receive nominations, we verify the need and conduct mini interviews to find our GLITZ girl.
"A typical GLITZ girl would be someone who is or who aspires to be self-confident and ambitious, a girl who sets her own standards and strives to bring her goals to life in spite of any obstacles she may face," April said.
"Once we have selected a young lady, we then contact her parents to inform them of what we would like to do. Once we get the OK to move forward, we make arrangements for a private fitting. During this time the GLITZ girl is allowed to 'shop' our collection of dresses, accessories, and shoes.
"We are still accepting more donations," April said. "We want the girls to have a variety of styles and colors to choose from, making this an actual 'shopping' experience. We also don't have any prior knowledge of the girls who are selected. Because of this we want to be as prepared as possible by being able to offer many different sizes. In addition, because we are in our first year a huge part of the process is focusing on building our collection so that next year this time we can place our focus on other areas of our giveaway event."
April said she believes the prom dress giveaway will impact the selected girls for years to come.
"I attended prom while in high school," April said. "It was an awesome experience. I remember the process of finding a dress and deciding on my hairstyle and accessories. Those are memories that will stick with me forever and even as an adult I still cherish that time in my life."
However, April has even bigger plans for the project.
"I envision GLITZ becoming so much more than an annual prom dress giveaway event," April said. "This is an opportunity for myself and all others who are a part of the GLITZ team to connect with girls from different backgrounds, to empower and educate them on common issues that we have as ladies like body image and self-confidence as well as how to tap into their passion and purpose. We want to emphasize the importance of being able to see beyond their current circumstances and what they may see as limitations. We plan to do this by keeping our connection with these girls and offering seminars and workshops in the future. We will continue to add other counties and schools as we expand.
"I wouldn't say that I am surprised by the success because this was truly a God-given idea and I knew it was purposed and planned for a time such as now. I am, however, so grateful to be a part of such an awesome cause and event. The connections I've made so far have truly made my heart full!
"I am so happy to join in the prom dress giveaway community here in Greenville. There are a few other groups and organizations hosting giveaways similar to ours. It is such an awesome feeling to be supporting a common cause in getting as many girls to attend prom as possible!
"I think it's super important for girls to experience their senior prom," April said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime moment that they'll remember forever! I also think every girl should have the opportunity to feel beautiful and dolled up in a dress that accentuates their natural given beauty and figure.
"Like our Facebook page for updates on our journey to finding our Pitt County GLITZ girls."
April Carr Kelly poses with dresses that have been donated to the GLITZ Prom Dress Giveaway. (Photos supplied by April Kelly)