"There has to be a better way."
That's how Life Management teacher Lisa Benages felt about the financial costs of buying dresses for the prom.
Benages, 52, had raised three daughters -- and bought a brand new prom dress for each of them. As a parent with daughters who are now 21, 24 and 27, she fully understands how expensive they can be.
Benages believes that the price of buying a prom dress can outweigh the experience for some and she came up with a plan to help change that.
"I know they usually just wear them once, so I thought they should be recirculated," said Benages.
With that in mind, Benages has organized the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park's first annual at Plymouth High School, to be held Saturday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.
"This year, I didn't want any girl not to be able to go," Benages said.
Benages said that this is something that she has always wanted to do, but she felt more compelled to do it this year, because of the change in the economy.
"Thinking of people who couldn't do what I did, I'm happy that they can benefit from all of this," she said.
Benages said that she advertised for donations on the school website, through word-of-mouth, the local media outlets. She posted requests on her status and was pleased to learn that her friends posted the request on their pages as well. Benages also sent out letters to local stores asking for their help.
"The dresses started pouring in," she said. "It was a phenomenal response."
Benages received several donations of used dresses by individuals and was given new dresses by area shops and in downtown Plymouth.
"My office is literally buried in dresses," Benages said.
Benages said that she has received well over one hundred dresses, including 30 new ones.
Bella Mia Store Manager AmiAnn Royer said she is excited to be a part of it all.
"Prom is really important to all girls," Royer said. "To not have to spend $300 and still get to be involved in that special day, that's the way it should be, don't you think?"
Bella Mia Online Store Manager Megan Murray added that she is happy to know that all of the girls will get dresses.
"We see how excited girls get about the prom," Murray said. "It's really important to them."
The contemporary women's boutique donated 15 new dresses to the school.
I Do Too Bridal also provided a wealth of donations. While the shop primarily caters to brides, owner Krista Schneider said that she gave the school dresses that were donated by various designers in the industry.
"Everyone deserves an opportunity to enjoy prom, to dress up and enjoy the celebration," Schneider said. "If we can make it easier, especially in Michigan, during the crunch in the economy, we'd like to do so."
Benages said that she has had an excellent response from the students.
"I have a couple of kids who've approached me, and I don't think they can believe it," she said.
Benages added that she was also contacted by President Tuxedo. The store has committed to providing dollar off coupons and plans to hold a raffle for a free tuxedo rental.
Dresses for the sale will be available to the students for $20 or less.
Donations can still be dropped off in the general office at the school.