A nonprofit group based out of Columbus took on the mission of providing prom dresses to teenage girls in the area who would otherwise be unable to afford them.
Fairy Goodmothers was created in 2005 after a group of Columbus women noticed a spike in prom expenses. The average family now spends close to $1,000 for their child’s prom night, according to a recent study conducted by Visa.
Over 250 volunteers assist Fairy Goodmothers' cause, collecting, repairing and organizing the 9,000 gowns they receive each year. Then they disperse the finished dresses to young women at free pop-up shops in early spring.
“It’s really important for a girl to feel beautiful on prom night,” said Jen Homan, president of Fairy Goodmothers. “Being able to choose a dress is so important, because a lot of the girls have never been able to choose something before.”
Since its founding, the organization has provided prom dresses for 12,000 girls in Central Ohio, according to Homan.
For some, being able to borrow a dress is the only way they can attend the monumental event at all.
Raven Maddux, 17, picked out a prom dress last year for her prom at Bishop Hartley High School. She said her mother was sick and would not have been able to afford a dress that she loved in addition to everything else young women may have to purchase for the event.
“Prom tickets themselves are about $70 and then you have makeup, hair, shoes and dinner,” she said. “It really adds up.”
Maddux’s mom, Carla Maddux, echoed her daughter's gratitude.
“I’ve been in the hospital 18 times in the last year,” Carla said. “[Raven] would sit online looking at expensive dresses and I knew I couldn’t do it. I’m so thankful this program was around to bless us the last two years."
With the help of the Fairy Goodmothers, Raven said she is able to save her money for expenses that will accumulate as she enters college in the fall, instead of using it for a dress she will wear just once.
But collecting and sorting these gowns is not an easy task — it involves significant physical labor.
“There’s hauling dresses around, there’s true fundraising, there’s sponsoring events, marketing and outreach. You can get to the pop-up shop time and just be exhausted,” Homan said.
Homan says all the hard work and long hours are worth it, though.
“Every time we hear a mom say 'thank you,' we think, ‘I can go a little longer.’”