When you walk into the North Tonawanda Prom Boutique, you are greeted with a friendly hello, and walls of prom gowns - some adorned with jewels and others full of vibrant colors that any young girl would be honored to wear to prom.
Some students pick up their dream dress, and ask, "How much?"
The women, who so graciously donate their time to run the shop, are quick to say with a kind grin - "FREE".
How did it all start?
Cheryl McMahon and Brenda Hoffman (pictured right) are both mothers in the North Tonawanda School District and know all too well how expensive prom can be. Brenda met Cheryl a few years ago while out grocery shopping, and they began to talk about how some teenage girls are unable to attend the big dance because they cannot afford to do so.
"We just didn't think that was right, and we certainly knew we had to do something to help," Cheryl says.
So, five years ago, they put out the call for friends and family to donate a dress or two. The initial success was overwhelming.
"We thought maybe 50 dresses would be a good goal," Brenda says. "To our surprise we received 150, even more that first year."
And the number has since climbed. When #HopeRises visited the boutique, a room inside the high school, it held close to 900 dresses, as well as shoes, suits for male students, even caps and gowns for graduation.
"We want anyone who comes through our doors to feel comfortable and not feel as though they have to be low income for a dress. We tell the girls to think about it this way - come into our shop, pick a dress and save the $500 or $600 it will take to buy a brand new dress. Some of our dresses even have tags on them, never before worn," Cheryl explains.
The best part of this initiative in the North Tonawanda community? Both Brenda and Cheryl hold back tears when they think about the emotions that run through the walls of their boutique.
"These beautiful girls deserve to feel like princesses," Brenda exclaims. "We never want a girl to miss her prom due to not having a gown. That is why we put in all of the hours and effort. The smiles from them, even the tears from them, are all we need in return."
To learn more about stopping into the North Tonawanda Prom Boutique, call 716-909-3568 or 716-909-3823.
Hope Rises has teamed up with the North Tonawanda Prom Boutique to offer FREE prom makeovers to young girls who are attending prom on June 1st. Please note, you do not have to attend the North Tonawanda prom to qualify for this makeover, however your prom must be on June 1st.
If you wish to apply for FREE makeup and hair style by the very talented Savannah Lennon of Goodie2Brows and the ladies of Sass Salon, click here.
You MUST apply by May 20th.