Free prom dresses available through Emily’s Closet

By Tina Covington / For Gulf Coast Media
Posted 3/1/17

BAY MINETTE — Leigh Black Byrd is now a mom to an adorable little boy, but five years ago she was a student at Baldwin County High School who needed a prom dress. She found a beautiful pink dress …

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Free prom dresses available through Emily’s Closet

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BAY MINETTE — Leigh Black Byrd is now a mom to an adorable little boy, but five years ago she was a student at Baldwin County High School who needed a prom dress. She found a beautiful pink dress trimmed with sequins at Emily's Closet, a program that provides free dresses to high school girls in Baldwin County.

“It was a quick and easy way to find my perfect dress, with the helpful ladies there to assist. Financially, this gave my mom and I a chance to breathe with the expenses of graduation right around the corner,” Byrd said.

Sponsored by the Heritage Junior Women's Club in Bay Minette, the organization has given away hundreds of dresses since launching the program more than a decade ago.

The women's organization founded Emily's Closet in 2008 to honor the memory of Emily Rose Parker, a Bay Minette teenager who was killed in an automobile accident in 2003, just before the start of her senior year at Baldwin County High School.

Emily’s Closet is set up with racks of dresses, divided by size and young ladies can “shop” amongst the selections to find the perfect dress – at no charge. The program has afforded many young ladies the opportunity to attend prom in style, without worrying about finances.

“Emily’s Closet has provided numerous dresses over the years to students who may not have been able to attend prom due to the dress cost,” said Sarah Lusk, HJWC project chair. “We think every girl should be able to attend the prom with dignity and excitement.”

The group currently has about 300 dresses in stock donations and donations are always needed to replenish its supply, especially those in larger sizes. The club is also in need of additional clothing racks to display the dresses.

Donations can be dropped off at the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce on McMeans Avenue in Bay Minette. Monetary donations can also be mailed to HJWC, Attn.: Emily’s Closet, P.O. Box 45, Bay Minette, AL 36507.

High school girls will get the chance to shop at Emily’s Closet during the annual prom boutique, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 4 at the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in Robertsdale.

Lusk said the central location was chosen to make it more accessible to the students in all parts of the county. “Emily’s Closet is open to all girls attending any of the high schools in Baldwin County. The girls can come and find a dress for free at the boutique.”

Central Baldwin Chamber Director Gail Quezada said the chamber is proud to be able to provide support for the program this year.

“This is such a wonderful program and whatever we can do to support it, we’re happy to do it,” she said.

Leigh Byrd said the program provided a valuable service to her and she expects others will feel the same way. “Emily's Closet is a wonderful event and can be of great help to those in need,” Byrd said. “I still have and love my prom dress, almost five years later, and I guarantee any girls looking will love theirs.”

For more information about Emily’s Closet, call 251-937-5665, ext. 2.