Kathy Boothby poses with a few of the 80 donated dresses made to Prom Connection. All the dresses will be available for free to students from both Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at the Rumford Eagles Club, 13 Oxford Ave.
RUMFORD — More than 80 dresses have been donated to the Prom Connection since a Sun Journal article promoting the effort was published April 8.
“I’m so excited,” organizer Kathy Boothby said. “We’ve really had a lot of outreach with the community since the story went out.”
Boothby and Debbie Bradley organized Prom Connection, which donates clothing to high school students for the big night, with the simple request that they pay it forward in the future.
All the dresses collected, ranging from petite to plus-size in varying lengths, will be free to students from both Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools.
Dresses will be displayed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at the Rumford Eagles Club, 13 Oxford Ave.
“I also have two nice necklaces,” Boothby said. “If anyone is interested, they can fill out a ticket for a chance to win.”
Dirigo’s prom is May 6, and Mountain Valley’s is May 13.
In early April, Boothby and Bradley, who are Rumford Eagles Auxiliary officers, delivered several dresses and suits to Mountain Valley High School. The free clothing comes with a letter asking that the student give back by helping find dresses and suits for the next student to wear by helping in the community.
The majority of the donated dresses for the May 3 event came from the Woman’s Literary Union in Auburn.
Boothby, a crafter, was at the Craft Circle event at the Eagles when she got a call from the WLU.
“They saw the article and said they wanted to help,” she said, and accepted an invitation to a tour and tea at the 19 Elm St. mansion. Boothby and Mickey Sousa, the Eagles’ Auxiliary president, made the trip.
In 2014, the WLU began its annual Fairy Godmother Project Prom Gown Giveaway extravaganza, which collects donated gowns, dresses and accessories and gives them away to junior and senior high school students from any school, anywhere.
Girls who get a free prom gown one year can pay it forward by bringing it back after cleaning it for someone else to wear the next year.
Boothby said they were told the WLU puts letters out in the community in January asking for the community to help. She was told girls at the local colleges are among those donating dresses.
Boothby left the event with about 50 dresses. She said the WLU also donated dresses to a group in Bridgton. More dresses were donated by someone from Bethel who contacted Bradley.
Boothby said other individuals have called to donate anywhere from three to seven dresses.
“They (WLU) want us all to work together now; a collaborative effort,” Boothby said. “And they will let us know in January when they do a tea and get word out to the community.”
She’s not sure what this prom event will look like in the future, but she’s sure that she wants to be a part of what WLU is doing for 2018.
Boothby noted she will not be doing this for the Eagles, but on her own, along with Bradley and whoever wants to join them. She said she is also looking for a place where they can store the clothing they collect during the year.
“I’m really happy where this is going,” Boothby said. “I’m really hoping that this is going to manifest into something big and good for the community.”
Down the line, she said she’d like to find a group of people interested in this project, form a board of directors and get nonprofit status so they can ask for grants.
Boothby would like to see the event happen during the schools’ April vacation.
“I really feel that the students of this area need the assistance,” she said. “If we can teach them that we’re here for them, and that we’d like to see them reach out to the community. What I’d really like to see them do is a coat drive for the younger kids.
“This is our Cinderella project,” she said. “I really want to help the students. They’re our future.”