LONG BEACH (WLOX) -- Gorgeous gowns that were once tucked-away in closets, will soon make another prom appearance. On Monday, members of "Sacred Heart Catholic Church" in Dedeaux donated ten dresses to 8th Grader Darby Raybourn. The Long Beach teen started the dress drive, as a New Year's Spiritual Resolution at "Our Lady Academy" in Bay St. Louis.
"Even though it's two-years after Katrina, a lot of people still need dresses," said 13-year-old Darby Raybourn. "And I decided I wanted to get involved in some outreach to help others."
This small class project expanded into the Gulf Coast community, when Darby's mom got involved.
"The response has really been overwhelming," said Amy Raybourn. "We've already collected 63 dresses. We have until March 22 to try and meet our goal of 100."
Many of the dresses came from friends in Boston, Atlanta, and Nashville. Several gowns still have price tags attached.
"They've never been worn. We are so lucky," Raybourn said.
The Raybourns say the project is their way of giving back. You see, the family had to move to Tennessee, after their home flooded in Katrina. They returned to Long Beach last summer.
"It binds us to the community, but it also lets us keep in touch with all those people that took us in when we were struggling in Nashville," said Raybourn. "There were so many people that helped us there and they still want to help."
The mother-daughter team say it's their turn to help teens with financial hardships, find their dream dress.
"That's for a very tall girl, so we can help all sizes," Raybourn said as she picked up a long, blue gown.
"They weren't going to get to go to the prom, and now they get to go to prom and be a princess," said Darby. "I think just them being so happy will be really great."
The Raybourns are still accepting donations. To donate new or lightly-used prom dresses, call Amy Raybourn at (228) 224-3458. You can also drop them off at Belks Department Stores in Gulfport or Biloxi, or at First United Methodist Church in downtown Gulfport.
The dresses will be given out on March 29th, from 10 AM until 4 PM, at First United Methodist Church of Gulfport. In order to qualify, girls must be enrolled in a local high school, attend classes regularly, and will be attending their own school prom.