May 11, 2012

Prom dress swap and shop a success

Carley Potter and her date Dale Howard are pictured second from left in this group photo of young people getting ready for prom.

Credit: DJ Potter


Prom Dress Swap and Shop organizer Carley Potter, Miss Teen Canyon Lake, reports prom weekend on April 28 was a success, with "great weather, great location and great fun had by all." And it would not have been possible for at least five of the girls if it weren't for the donations of prom dresses by generous Canyon Lakers and others prior to the event, she says.

“I would like to thank everyone who participated by loaning and donating dresses for our cause," says Carley. "Because of your generosity, girls' dreams of going to the prom became a reality.”

Looking at some of the "behind-the-scenes miracles," Carley lists seamstress Delfina McKee, who donated her time and talents to help fit the dresses to the girls and took in an inch or two here and there. She was working two days before prom just to make sure the dresses fit perfectly, says Carley.

Carley also acknowledges the help of Wendy Rodriguez of VIP Events, who allowed the dresses to be stored at her shop and spent the week collecting last-minute donations of dresses and helping Carley match girls with the gowns.

"Even as crazy as it got with the guys coming in for their tuxes, Wendy was wonderful about the dresses taking up every last part of her shop," says Carley. In addition, moms were coming in and offering shoes and jewelry that matched the dresses they donated if their dresses were chosen by a girl."

"It seemed like everyone wanted to be a part of something wonderful and we weren’t going to turn away any super-heroes,” says DJ Potter, Carley's mom.

As the prom date got closer, philanthropists unexpectedly asked Carley if any of the girls also needed help paying for prom tickets. “I couldn’t believe it! Money was being donated for our cause above and beyond anything I had hoped for. Our Cinderellas were going to the ball after all,” says Carley, who adds that, with the help of these anonymous donors, four girls got their prom tickets handed to them with no strings attached.

With strategic maneuvering the last few days before prom, Carley says the staff at Temescal Canyon High School worked with her to take care of the tickets and other arrangements. "Those super-heroes included Student Counselor Kebra Deckert and ASB Advisor Carrie Strange, along with the school bookkeeper. It was magical how everything fell into place," says Carley.

“This took a lot of hard work and dedication,” says Micheala Adler, a dress donor and senior at TCHS. “Carley deserves to be recognized for what she did here.”

But Miss Teen Canyon Lake says she instead would like to be thanked by having the community continue to support her by keeping this tradition alive.

“Through this experience, I have had the privilege of hearing some great ideas from girls, moms, seniors and club leaders of Canyon Lake. They have given me the inspiration to keep this idea growing and expand it by including more events that go along with this idea."

Carley notes that Cotillion facilitator Ed Strong would like to see this project include Cotillion dresses for the younger girls, ages 8 to 14 years old. The Canyon Lake Middle School PTA says they are sponsoring the 8th grade promotion dance this month. Many girls are shopping for the perfect dress while others aren’t as fortunate. Having a place to borrow a dress would be helpful to some families, she says. In addition, the fall season brings the TCHS homecoming dance and after Christmas comes the winter formal.

"It would be a shame to have girls not be able to attend these functions due to financial concerns," says Carley. “This could possibly turn out to be a year-long project. But in that case, I am going to need some help. All of these worthwhile ideas can be turned into a reality with the proper manpower and a place to show off the dresses about four weeks prior to an event."

“Now is the time to donate dresses,” say Carley and Wendy. "Prom just ended for most schools and the dresses are all being dry-cleaned or popped into the closet never to be seen again. If you aren’t going to wear it again, or if you would like to pay it forward and give another girl the chance to wear your beautiful dress, please consider donating it. We would really appreciate all those beautiful gowns so some other girls can look as beautiful as you did. The look on these girls faces when they see the perfect dress hanging on our rack is priceless!”

Carley invites individuals or clubs who would like to help sponsor girls, donate dresses or offer ideas that would compliment the Dress Swap to contact her through her mother, DJ, at djpotterproperties@hotmail.com or 538-5566.

Miss Teen closes by saying, “Thank you Canyon Lakers for making me proud to live in such a generous community! Please keep your donations coming and join my team of super-heroes.”