When Oswego mom Mary Garcia heard that her daughter’s friend was unable to attend homecoming last year because her family couldn’t afford a dress, it broke her heart.
“That wasn’t OK with me, and I was really upset about it,” Garcia lamented. She thought back to the moments she spent dancing the night away as a high schooler and became determined to make every girl feel like a princess, whether she could afford it or not.
Garcia had a feeling other moms would be on board with her mission.
Just after Christmas, Garcia took to a local mom group on Facebook and threw out a query —Would anyone be willing to donate their gently used dresses to be gifted to those in need and for free?
“The comments and ‘likes’ went nuts,” Garcia said. That night, she created the My Daughter’s Dress Facebook page and website, and her mission became clear.
In a matter of weeks, the My Daughter’s Dress inventory was stocked with more than two dozen dresses, some of them with tags still on them. They come in different sizes, and different colors, and fit for different occasions.
Prom, homecoming and Quinceanera dresses have been gifted. Wedding dresses, daddy-daughter dance attire and formal garb are all up for grabs.
“I’m going to have two girls in high school next year,” Garcia said. “With homecoming dresses and prom dresses, it’s just not feasible…You can’t walk about of a prom shop without spending $400.”
Garcia’s dream is to have a shop of her own someday, chock-full of formal-wear for those 12 months and up. Instead of walking out with a hole burned in their pockets, moms and daughters would be able to shop a variety of dresses at no cost.
“I’m looking for a space,” Garcia said of her goal. “My goal is to make this a non-profit and get federally funded to have a storage space for all of these dresses. It’s going to get overwhelming.”
Right now, Garcia is accepting dresses at her home, but donors are also welcome to send Garcia pictures, which she posts on her website to be perused. These dresses can be picked up from donors’ homes by their recipients, or the exchange can be made through Garcia.
“I’ll accept any dresses, but I’m trying to keep them in-style,” Garcia said.
She said her mission differs from consignment pop-ups and prom dress resale events in that her donated dresses are never sold.
“I don’t care if I get my money back for something I donate,” she said. “It would mean much more to me if someone was able to use it. If I can help one person, I’ve done my job. I know how expensive it is and the struggle of having girls.”
By the time prom rolls around, Garcia hopes to have a cache of dresses that will tickle every fancy. In time, she hopes to have her own shop which can accommodate shoes, jewelry and purses.
“I’m hoping it becomes a one-stop-shop,” she said.
And, while there aren’t many rules to receiving a dress, there are a few.
One: Don’t accept a donated dress and then resell it, Garcia stated firmly.
Two: “After you’ve worn it, don’t donate it to Goodwill where it will have to be paid for by someone. Just donate it back to me.”
Garcia will be hosting a “drop-off” event at her home on Feb. 4 from 1-4 p.m. As prom approaches, a shopping event will be held. Until then, the website and Facebook page are open to shop from.
For more information about My Daughter’s Dress visit https://www.facebook.com/mydaughtersdress/ or http://www.mydaughtersdress.org/
— Oswego mom starts Facebook dress exchange so no one misses out —-