To inspire confidence and respect in high school women by providing free formal gowns for prom and other memorable events.
To download a copy of an Abby’s Closet brochure, click HERE.
HOW WE GOT STARTED – HELPING PROM DREAMS COME TRUE
It Started with a Pink Prom Dress. When Abby Egland of West Linn, Oregon was cleaning out her closet before starting college, she wondered how she could best pass along the pretty pink dress that she had worn to her Prom. Her mom, Sally Egland, had a great idea: why not start a volunteer group that collects formal dresses, and then give them away each spring to high school women who needed them for their prom? This was the start of Abby’s Closet in 2004.
The Prom Gown Giveaway. Abby and Sally asked some of their co-workers and friends to help collect the dresses from high schools, other moms, businesses and those who heard about Abby’s Closet through the local media. The first year over 300 high school women came to the prom gown giveaway in April and almost all left with a beautiful dress that they picked out from the hundreds collected by the volunteers. Most had not been able to afford to buy the expensive gowns in stores, so they were very happy to be able to go to prom in a beautiful dress after all, thanks to Abby’s Closet. The Prom Gown Giveaway Events have grown each year. To date, Abby’s Closet has given away over 5,000 prom gowns.
The Word Spreads. The first year, most of the young women who received gowns came from the Portland, Oregon area, but soon high school women who lived further away heard about the giveaway. Students from small towns convinced their mothers to carpool a group to Portland, often arriving as early as 4:30 am to get a good place in line for the 8 am opening. Some students found business sponsors in their towns to pay for a school bus to bring the girls to the gown giveaway event. This year the Board members of Abby’s Closet have called all high schools, public and private, within 150 miles of the gown giveaway event, to be sure they know that their students are welcome to come select a free prom gown from the 4,500+ that have been collected.
Students Helping Students. Starting in 2008, there is a Student Advisory Board within Abby’s Closet, made up of young women in local high schools and colleges who are conducting dress collection drives in their school as well as helping other schools set up their own drives. They also give their own perspective on ways to make the giveaway event as easy and fun as possible. Several of the students are using their experience on the Board to write their Senior Project for school, since it takes leadership to run the dress drives.
One of Our First Donations. Below is a picture of one of the first donations we received.
Here is the email message she sent to us with the gown:
Thanks for your work collecting prom dresses. This is such a great program. My prom was in 1985 and I have hung on to my beloved dress through over 10 moves – though never worn it again. My family was going through a particularly difficult financial time when I was in high school and I never went to school dances. I went to school with some of the richest kids in the country but I always got my clothes at thrift stores – and they never had formals or party dresses. My dearest guy friend invited me to senior prom. His family had lots of money and he had his tux made for him. After several depressing shopping trips with my mom, I saw this dress hanging in the window of an antique store. I assumed it would never fit, would be too expensive and/or would show my chicken pox scar. Amazingly, this hand-made California designer dress from the 1950′s was priced within my small budget, fit me perfectly, and covered the scar I was so embarrassed about. This elegant, full-length dress was “retro” even in 1985, but it was the absolute hit of the prom (and my prom pictures don’t look as silly as the girls’ who wore the enormous shoulder pads that were the trendy thing then). I have never owned another piece of clothing so special. I hope it helps fulfill another girl’s prom dreams. Thanks again for starting this great program.