RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The Princess Prom Program is returning for its 10th year to pamper, primp and inspire local teens readying for prom.
The program is hosted by God’s Hands at Work, a local nonprofit, though program organizers said that by the end of the day, no one is blessed more than them.
“Lisa [Carroll] and I are so excited that we’ve been able to do this for 10 years,” said Amy Beaver, events coordinator. “We are more blessed at the end of the day, than all of our girls collectively put together because just seeing their faces light up when they have an opportunity to select a gown when they maybe thought they weren’t going to have that opportunity.”
The Princess Prom Program provides prom dresses and accessories to girls and offers some men’s attire to the boys.
The program is available for students in the five counties God’s Hands at Work services — Gallia, Jackson, Meigs and Vinton Counties in Ohio and Mason County in West Virginia.
“Every high school is invited,” Beaver said. “They get all the information, they get the flyers to post at their schools, I communicate with prom coordinators and student leadership staff.”
Beaver said something new this year is that they have started a student advisory board, who help promote the event and serve as the models for the fashion show put on showing off the dresses.
“So, they’re in the schools and they’re talking to their friends and they are building awareness of what we are doing,” Beaver said.
The event started by helping one girl ten years ago. There were 156 girls outfitted the year prior to COVID-19, which was the largest event to date according to Beaver.
Participants can preregister or sign up the day of the event. During the event they have the opportunity to “shop” for everything one would need for prom, from the dress to the jewels.
Lisa Caroll, director for God’s Hands at Work, said there are over 500 dresses for girls to “shop” from this year, something Beaver said she hopes will allow them to bless even more girls.
This year’s event will be hosted at Rio Ridge Venue in Rio Grande, Ohio and from the moment the girls walk in, the fun begins Beaver said.
The girls are welcome with snacks and refreshments, something Carroll said is always made special.
“The refreshments and everything, I just think our ladies really go all out,” Carroll said. “They make you feel very pampered and special when you’re there that day, and that’s what we want. We want the girls to know that they’re loved and highly favored. And [that] Jesus loves them and we do too.”
Beaver said the girls get to see the dresses on a variety of models in a variety of shapes and sizes.
“We do a fashion show, which is really great because it gives the girls an opportunity to see these dresses on different body types,” Beaver said. “And this year, we have a large variety of girls that are going to be our fashion models for the day.”
Beaver said each model will have a brief bio read during the show and will hopefully allow the upcoming participants relate to the other girls.
“These are girls that have been in the past blessed by our program, and able to obtain a dress, or girls that have invested volunteer hours with our program because they have a heart for what we’re doing,” Beaver said. “We decided that this year, they’re going to be our models because what better faces than the girls that are involved.”
The fashion show will have music and be emceed by Josh Wellington, director of the Gallia Chamber of Commerce, who offered his services for the event.
Each year the event brings in an inspirational speaker to speak with the girls; Beaver said while there is not one scheduled yet for this year, they do hope to have one.
After the fashion show festivities, the girls get to “shop” for not only a prom gown, but also a homecoming dress — something that is a new addition to the event.
“The girls will then get an opportunity to start shopping, free of charge, for a gown,” Beaver said. “But if they’re going to be in school again next year, we’re going to have homecoming dresses available for selection as well.”
Carroll said there are volunteers that help as the girl’s “personal shoppers.”
“We have a personal shopper that walks them through [the] whole process,” Carroll said. “And they have a little card that they get, they checkmark as they go through each of the stations to make sure that they’ve been everywhere. It’s very exciting.”
Each girl will also have custom floral arrangements completed to match their gown, something that has been donated by Brittany Sayre, who has volunteered her time and the supplies each year, Beaver said.
“She has done this with us for quite a few years now and I just love that she pours her heart into this program,” Beaver said.
Beaver said there is a large selection of everything the girls need, all through the generosity of the community.
“We’ll also have a shoe selection, we have a large selection of jewelry for the girls to choose from,” Beaver said. “We’re going to have accessories, like wraps and purse, even some gloves if girls want to be that fancy.”
There will be a number of door prizes given out throughout the day and the first 50 girls will receive a little swag bag, Carroll said.
Beaver said there will be a selection of men’s suiting attire available for any gentlemen in need, but after noticing a larger need, they were able to secure three free tux rentals, donated by Brittany’s Gallipolis. To be fair, the tux rentals will awarded via a drawing.
“Three boys [who] either preregister with us or show up the day of, all of those names are going to go in a drawing and they could potentially go home with a free tuxedo rental,” Beaver said.
Something both Beaver and Carroll said is special about the event is that it is completely community sponsored.
“Community businesses, community individuals, this is total sponsorship,” Beaver said. “There are no agency funds that are used for this giveaway event and there never has been, it has always been a community sponsored events.”
“So, they can get a dress, shoes, jewelry, makeup, flowers, the whole nine yards. It’s all free,” Carroll said. “For all those items that I just named, this program is totally sponsored by the community.”
Beaver said the event is more than just the glitz and glam, its love.
“So, when you have a dream in your heart and you’re able to witness it go from something small to something really large, that is a day we can celebrate each individual girl and her style and her personality,” Beaver said. “And that can come out in their gown selection and we can love on them. Some of these girls don’t get that and we are so blessed that we can provide that for them.”
Beaver said she will be setup at My 3 Sons Treasures, LLC in Point Pleasant, W.Va. during their Live Sale Saturday to answer any questions and preregister girls on March 5 starting at 10 a.m.
Both Beaver and Carroll said generosity of the community through donations of items, services, venues, food, prizes and more is more than they could ask for and makes the event possible. The program will continue to take donations until the day of the event. Those with donations can contact God’s Hands at Work.
“It is amazing that we have been so welcomed in the community with this program for 10 years, that is not anything lost on either one of us,” Beaver said.
The Princess Prom Program event will be on March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Rio Ridge Venue in Rio Grande.
To preregister for the event, call 740-645-7609.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.