Donations accepted through April 11 for ‘Belle of the Ball’ giveaway

Photo courtesy of the Wayne County Commission One of last year’s “Belle of the Ball” dress recipients (left) poses with Wayne County Commission Vice Chairwoman Alisha Bell.

Photo courtesy of the Wayne County Commission
One of last year’s “Belle of the Ball” dress recipients (left) poses with Wayne County Commission Vice Chairwoman Alisha Bell.

8th annual event April 18
Attending their high school prom is a dream of many girls, but for some it’s simply too expensive.

That’s the motivation behind “Belle of the Ball,” the eighth annual prom dress event sponsored by Wayne County Commission Vice Chairwoman Alisha Bell (D-Detroit). The giveaway will run from 10 a.m. to noon April 18 at the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, 16500 Tireman, Detroit.

“It’s a great way for us to help girls in need with the expense of attending a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Bell said. “This is a wonderful example for the girls to experience the generosity of those around them.”

Girls can choose free formal and semiformal dresses, shoes, purses and jewelry that were donated. Some items are new; some are gently used. Dresses are arranged by size.

Bell estimates that the previous “Belle of the Ball” events combined have given away more than 1,400 dresses, including almost 200 last year. She initiated the event when the economy was down, knowing that girls easily can spend $500 or more to attend their prom – and that many can’t afford it. She said many professional women have dresses they’ve worn just once, so it’s a great way for the dresses to be used again.

Businesses also have donated dresses and accessories. Sponsors include Unique Lady; Amour Bridal, Prom and Tuxedo; Burlington Coat Factory; and Sears.

Items are arranged at the Boys & Girls Club the night before, and an hour before doors open, girls already are in line.

Bell said the Boys & Girls Club has been a “wonderful partner” in closing its building so it can host the event. The Salvation Army is another big supporter, donating items and employees’ time, and The Children’s Center in Detroit donates clothes racks. Extra dresses have been given to The Children’s Center so its clients also can have a prom.

Donations can be dropped off through April 11 at the Boys & Girls Club or Bell’s office in Suite 739 of the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold, Detroit. Volunteers also are needed for before, during and after “Belle of the Ball.”

Contact Bell’s office at 313-224-0936 or abell3@waynecounty.com for more information. She represents the Wayne County Commission’s 7th District, which covers part of Detroit’s far west side.