Long Beach woman giving away hundreds of prom dresses

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -   They come in sparkling sequins, lots of lace, and in sizes from petite to plus.  Hundreds of gorgeous gowns are taking up a lot of room in Amy Raybourn's house in Long Beach.

"I've got them scattered all over the place -- my closet and storage bins behind me," said Raybourn.

What started as a Katrina project has turned into a personal mission for Raybourn.  Last year, she helped her daughter collect prom dresses for a class service project at Our Lady Academy. It was aimed at helping families that were struggling financially because of Katrina.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Raybourn.  "The girls were so sweet and so thankful.  And it really touched my heart to be able to help them in any way we could."

This year, the depressing economy prompted Raybourn to continue the dress drive.

"It's just been tough.  There are families that have lost jobs and gas prices are high.  Anything that we can do to help, so that a girl could go to her high school prom," said Raybourn.

Her goal was to collect 200 dresses.  So far, she has received 325 gowns.  There are so many donated dresses that Raybourn has to hang half of them in a storage facility.  Some gowns are brand new, with the price tags still attached.

"That one's pretty with the beading around the waist," Raybourn said as she held up a burgundy dress.

The fancy formals will be given away this weekend to any girl who wants to look like Cinderella on prom night.

"To give them a sense of pride and confidence and when they walk in the room, they have a sense that every head turns to them," said Raybourn.  "We have lots of dresses.  And we want to get rid of every last one."

The dress distribution will be held this Saturday, March 21st, at First United Methodist Church in downtown Gulfport.  It will run from 9 AM to 3 PM.  And if you have dresses to donate, just call Amy Raybourn at (228) 224-3458.   She really needs more plus-sized gowns.

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