Three Watkins Memorial High School seniors are helping their classmates and all local junior and senior girls have a fairy-tale prom this year.
Seniors Melissa Spurbeck, Jessica Kennedy and Shelby Jude are sponsoring the "Fairy Tale Ending Dress Drive," whereby junior and senior girls from any high school may receive a prom dress for free.
The seniors have collected roughly 150 donated prom dresses, some of which are displayed on their Facebook page at Fairy Tale Ending Dress Drive. Anyone wanting to view the dresses should "Like" the page.
"You don't have to pay for a dress you wear for two hours at a dance," Spurbeck said.
She said the dress drive began as a senior project intended to benefit people within the school, but it eventually took on a life of its own.
The project has expanded to allow any girl going to an area prom to qualify for a dress.
"It's not been just a Watkins thing," Spurbeck said.
She said she understands economic conditions in the area have been challenging and many local girls don't have the ability to spend a lot of money on a dress they'll wear only once or twice.
That obstacle, she said, shouldn't prevent them from enjoying a fairy-tale prom.
The dresses will be available at Watkins Memorial High School from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, and from 8 to 11 a.m. Friday, March 22.
"We wanted to make it really flexible," Spurbeck said, so they added the evening hours.
Spurbeck said she, Kennedy and Jude have collected dresses since shortly after last year's prom.
Kennedy said she had the idea for the dress drive after visiting a website that encourages high school students to collect prom dresses to donate to girls.
Those who organize dress drives were eligible to win a scholarship. She said she couldn't find the website again in time to meet the filing deadline.
"We decided we'd do it anyway," she said.
Kennedy said her mother, a teacher in the Southwest Licking school district, helped by sending an email to the staff, asking for prom dress donations.
Kennedy said she contacted a nonprofit called Fairy Godmothers Inc., whose mission also is to provide junior and senior girls with prom dresses.
She said the Fairy Tale Ending Dress Drive could collect more dresses than it donates, and any leftover dresses will be given to Fairy Godmothers Inc. for its donation programs.
Both Spurbeck and Kennedy said they want to see the dress drive continue for years to come.
"It sounds like it'll stay around our school," Spurbeck said.
Kennedy said she has some friends interested in taking over the dress drive next year.
"Several teachers want to help and keep it going," she said.