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Gowns needed for 'Belle of the Ball' event

Date: 4/23/2009

By Ashlene Ferris, Staff Intern

SPRINGFIELD The Third Annual Belle of the Ball shopping event will allow young women the opportunity to experience their prom even in this economy.

Last year Springfield Public Schools considered canceling proms due to financial reasons, but fortunately the outcry from the community could not be dismissed. The Springfield Woman's Committee, an Ad-Hoc Committee of the Springfield City Council, began collecting previously worn dresses to redistribute throughout the Greater Springfield area.

This year the Woman's Committee joined forces with Springfield Public Schools, NUVO Bank and Tower Square to help young women have the opportunities that are afforded to others.

Marci Webber, founder of Belle of the Ball and owner of Naomi's Inn, said it's a charity event that is completely free where everybody can participate.

"The first year Belle of the Ball took place it was basically out of the back of my car, but last year we received over 500 dresses," she explained. "A prom is something you want girls to remember forever and certain people can't participate and you ought to be able to celebrate the event and celebrate in style."

The Springfield Woman's Committee is in the process of organizing this year's "Belle of the Ball" dress event that will take place at the Springfield High School of Science and Technology. The committee is working with public and private sector groups to collect special occasion dresses, accessories and shoes that will be offered at no cost to the girls in a series of afterschool events, where girls will have the chance to shop for their own special prom dress and accessories to match.

Susan Fearn, client relations manager of NUVO Bank, said this event is a perfect way to give back to the community.

"In the Tower Square office tower, we're sure there are plenty of mothers that have lots of dresses that are begging to be worn again," Fearn said.

The organizations will offer two separate shopping events, one for juniors on May 1 and one for the seniors on May 8, both at Sci-Tech High School from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Dresses, shoes and accessories can be dropped off weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the first floor of NUVO Bank, 1500 Main St., or by appointment at Naomi's Inn, 20 Springfield St., or anytime during mall hours at Mall Services within Eastfield Mall on Boston Road.