Prom helper

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Maleah Qualls organizes the prom dresses she plans to rent for free. (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

Big and poufy? Simple and sleek? Long or short?

If you would like to donate a formal gown, contact Qualls at 680-0064 or 209-7866. (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

No matter what adjective best describes the dress you want to get for prom, one thing's for sure -- you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars for that dress.

"You get one shot at prom, and that's it," said Maleah Qualls of Shelter Insurance. "Some people can't afford it. I had a friend who once told me, 'I didn't go -- I couldn't afford it.' I thought that was awful."

Qualls, who moved to Shelbyville from Perry County about five years ago, is collecting formal gowns (prom dresses, bridesmaids gowns, event gowns) that may be "rented" out at no cost to young ladies going to prom who can't afford to buy a dress.

Qualls has collected 20 dresses so far and has donated 10 of her own.

"I just wore this one dress and I thought, 'Well, now what am I going to do with it?'" she said. "Seven dresses came in to me over the weekend and more came in this week, and that's just from posting it on Facebook."

Qualls is looking for dresses of all sizes and styles, dresses, costume jewelry and donations used to fund her mission.

Those in need of a dress should call Qualls to set up an appointment to look and try on dresses. There is a $10 fee associated with the rental that will be used to have the dress drycleaned after use.

Many of the dresses have been worn only once or not at all. (T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)

The Perry County native is doing a similar program in her home town of Linden, which she says was hit worse than anywhere else with bad economic times.

"I had seen things like this on TV before and I thought what better time than now, with the economy the way it has been," she said.

Qualls' brainchild came to reality Monday, less than a week ago, and she admits she's still working out the kinks and will have a more systematic approach by next year.

Local proms this year are set for April 15 (Central), April 22 (Community) and April 29 (Cascade).

Qualls said others in the community have been helpful and have jumped on board with the prom project.

International House of Prayer church and Bella Donna and The Salon hair salons have offered to store dresses and Lynn Dropka of Joi De Vie has offered to donate a free hair and make up session by way of lottery. Lowe's sold Qualls clothes racks for hanging the dresses at a discounted price.

For more information, to donate a dress, shoes or costume jewelry, or to make an appointment call 680-0064 or 209-7866.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: