UPDATE: Because of how much it's grown, the prom dress ministry will happen at the GCT Multipurpose Gym on the main Campus off Hwy 412. The event will take place on March 22 from 9 am to noon.
PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -Prom is just weeks away for many school districts in Region 8 and for parents out there, it can be a toll on the pocketbook.
One Region 8 social work therapist said she doesn't want the expenses of prom to be a deterrent from making teens feel beautiful on prom night so she's started the Prom Dress Ministry, what she hope will become an annual event.
"Right now, this time of year, girls are talking about prom and saying well, I can't go because it's too expensive," Ginger Thornton told Region 8 News. "I never want a girl to have to feel like that."
The 24-year-old social work therapist said hearing from local teens that wanted to but couldn't afford to go to prom, prompted her to do a lot of praying. Thornton said not long after that, she got her answer.
"My husband just actually one night was just like, 'well, why don't you just do a prom dress ministry?' and it just clicked!"
An initial Facebook post, testing the waters to see who might be willing to help received wonderful response. People were answering the call to the Prom Dress Ministry as far out as Central and Northwest Arkansas.
Thornton said girls were happy to help, especially when she asked them to reminisce on their prom experiences.
"Remember the time that you had in that dress...how much fun you had, how beautiful you felt? Don't you want another girl to be able to have that experience?"
What started with four dresses from Thornton and her sister has grown to 40 in less than a month. Thornton said more dresses are on their way but she still needs more and needs them by March 20.
"I don't want a girl to show up and we have to turn her away," Thornton said.
The first Prom Dress Ministry event will take place on March 22.
"Each girl will have their own personal shopper...they'll have a lady that just comes in, helps them try on dresses, helps match shoes, accessories. That's what I want, for these girls to feel beautiful just like I was able to in these dresses."
Afterwards, girls will have a choice between a free manicure or free pedicure. Someone will also be on hand to make free alterations to dresses if need be.
Thornton said the only qualification is to be in high school.
"The rest, you leave in our hands and we'll take care of it."
Thornton said dresses are being accepted at 22 Lou Boutique in Paragould until March 20. Once you drop off the dress, you'll receive a 15% discount at the store. Thornton said it doesn't have to be a prom dress you drop off. Homecoming dresses, bridesmaid dresses or anything that would be fun to wear to prom is welcome.
Thornton said she hopes this ministry grows bigger and becomes an annual event.