Cheena Sims attended prom a few years ago at Detroit East English Village Prep Academy and had two of her prom dresses hanging in the basement of her home unused. Prom season in Michigan is right around the corner and Sims thought it would be a great idea to donate her dresses to girls who may not be able to buy a dress for prom.
Sims, who works at the Butzel Family Center on the city’s east side, reached out to Lisa Cunningham at Butzel and pitched the idea to her. They came up with a group called Glam Dolls and were able to collect over 400 prom dresses and other accessories. With assistance from the City of Detroit, they held a prom dress giveaway Friday afternoon at Butzel.
“I know how stressful it was for my mother when it was time for my prom,” said Sims, who co-created Glam Dolls a month ago. “I remember having to sell candy to buy my prom dress and jewelry, so it makes me feel good to be able to give to those less fortunate.”
Sims said she did not expect a huge turnout, but an hour into the event, she and her Glam Dolls co-founders and volunteers had already given away 100 dresses. Those interested were able to sort through racks of prom dresses, available in a variety of colors and sizes, some sparkly, others shiny. Shoes and jewelry were also available, as well as some ties for the boys. They event setup a runway to boost the girls’ self-esteem by having them model their dresses for their families.
“We’ve been to all the malls and she didn’t like any of the dresses. I didn’t want to press my budget, so we came here to find something,” said Camilla Bolton, whose daughter Angel Wilson is going to prom at Detroit Osborn May 31. “I still have to buy her accessories, tickets, and transportation, but this event takes a huge load off my shoulders, not having to buy an expensive dress.”
High school seniors and even those attending junior prom attended the event looking for a dress. Dominique Martin is a senior at Detroit Southeastern High School and found the perfect blue dress to wear to her prom June 6.
“These events are important because the dresses here are free,” said Martin, who volunteers at Butzel. “People should be encouraged to come here because there aren’t too many people in the city that would do this for us. What Glam Dolls is doing is great for our community.”
The Glam Dolls’ prom dress giveaway also taught its recipients about the importance of giving back, recycling, and paying it forward. The bulk of their dresses were donated by a realtor named DJay Raska, who held a similar event in Ferndale and had a number of dresses leftover. She donated her dresses to the Glam Dolls event and they plan to do the same if they have any leftovers.
“I live by paying it forward,” said Cunningham, who is the recreation instructor at Butzel. “We all want our kids to look good, but families shouldn’t have to spend all of their funds to do that. Glam Dolls held this initiative to give parents a break. We are going to do it just this one time this year, but the response has been overwhelming and we are definitely going to do it next year.”