ORWELL — As prom season approaches, many teenage girls are in the pursuit of finding the perfect dress. However, sometimes the “perfect dress” can have an overwhelming price tag.
Fortunately for girls on a budget, Grand Valley senior Kelsey Merritt has organized Project Princess, a “dress drive” that allows girls to shop for gently used dresses—for free! Initiated as Merritt’s Girl Scout goal project, Project Princess has given teenage girls the opportunity to finally own the dress of their dreams without breaking the bank.
Merritt began Project Princess last year and it has been continuous ever since. Though it originated as a one-time event, Merritt says girls have contacted her throughout the year seeking dresses as well. This year, the event took place at St. Mary’s Church in Orwell on March 29.
Of course, Merritt had some assistance in hosting the event that Saturday. Fellow Grand Valley students and Girl Scout troop members seniors LeeAnn Maruna and Tylor Whitely, and junior Justine Stagl were at St. Mary’s in order to assist. Grand Valley senior Katie Paskey and junior Abby Paskey also attended. In total, they gave away 15 dresses that day.
In order for Project Princess to operate, Merritt relies on the generous donations of other girls who have unwanted dresses from prior occasions. In many cases, people buy dresses that they wear once and then never touch again which is how Merritt was able to crusade this event.
“I ask around for dresses, and the thought behind it really inspires people to donate,” Merritt said. “Otherwise, it’s just going to sit in their closet. Someone else can really get some use from it, though.” Having been involved with Girl Scouts for 12 years, Merritt is a Girl Scout Ambassador, the highest ranking in Girl Scouts. This February she was honored the Gold Award, the highest achievement within Girl Scouts.