For many teenagers finding that perfect prom dress is a huge part of getting ready for the party. But in a tough economy some families can't afford to buy that special dress. Now, one South Valley woman, is hoping to change that.
Bright dresses, shiny dresses, short dresses and long dresses. It almost looks like your average department store packed with teenage girls hunting for that perfect dress ahead of prom season.
"It's my style, I really like shiny and bright," said Elizabeth Gomez, a student at Monache High School.
For Elizabeth Gomez and her mother Norma, shuffling through theses racks actually saves their family a lot of money. "It's hard because my mom is always like I want you to find something that you like and the ones I like are always expensive."
"We are a family of six, so I always tell her you're not the only one, you still have other brothers and sisters so I wish I could give them everything but it doesn't go that way with us," said Norma Gomez of Visalia.
Annie Gilles created the non-profit, called Enchanted Evening, to help families who find it hard to pay for the often pricey gowns. "We don't want anybody to miss their prom, it's an important event in their life, it's a memory that lasts forever," said Gilles.
At Saturday night's event, 800 Dresses were up for grabs, and volunteers and a seamstress donated their time to help with fittings.
Organizers say about 250 students signed up to attend. "It's just not a walk in to get a dress, they have to go to their high school they have to sign up and the counselors go through and verify these are kids that need the financial help for the prom," said Gilles.
Action News talked to some of those teens soon after they found the right fit.
"I wasn't really looking forward to it because I thought I wasn't going to find something," said Sabrina Buckingham, a student at Tulare Union High School.
"I just look at it as if I feel beautiful, then it shouldn't matter, if it's expensive, if it's cheap. As long as you feel beautiful it shouldn't really matter," said Elizabeth Gomez
The non-profit relies on donations to gather all their dresses.