Not too late to ‘Say Yes to the Dress’
Prom Project hosting $20 prom dress sale Thursday

Inside the Centenary United Methodist Church in Danville is a walk-in closet full of about 1,000 prom dresses in sizes 00-28, containers full of jewelry and dress shoes. There’s also a style for everyone, said Ginny Hogue, who started The Prom Project at the church about four years ago.

The Prom Project works entirely with donations and volunteers and provides junior and senior girls with free prom dresses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

The Prom Project closet at the church is stocked from front to back with dresses and containers full of jewelry and shoes. – Photo by Olivia Mohr

The girls are chosen by their schools’ family resource centers and come from not only Danville and Boyle school districts and Kentucky School for the Deaf — The Prom Project has also worked with Garrard, Lincoln, Casey, Mercer, Marion and McCreary counties. However, McCreary County is now working with a similar program in Somerset because it’s closer.

Due to the pandemic, school districts took a while to decide if and when they were going to have their proms and changed dates a few times. So The Prom Project only served about 22 girls this year over the course of two days, when usually it serves about 80 girls over three days. KSD also opted to have an informal picnic this year instead of prom, Hogue said.

Because of the large number of dresses Hogue has in storage and the limited number of girls the project has been able to serve for free this year, there will be a “Say Yes to the Dress” $20 dress sale on Thursday at the church from 4-7 p.m., cash and carry, an event it has held once before.

Proceeds will go toward next year’s Prom Project, for jewelry and anything the Prom Project will need to buy. Most of its dresses and shoes are donations, though some are brand-new with tags, and most jewelry is new, bought through registries it has through and

The dresses through the sale will largely be older styles, or dresses that have been stored by The Prom Project for a longer time. After the sale, The Prom Project will bundle a lot of the dresses leftover and give them to a church in Clinton County that does a similar program.

“We just try to pay it forward, make sure every girl that wants to go to prom can go to prom,” Hogue said.

The Prom Project is worth contributing to in this way because it’s fun for the girls and gives them an opportunity to go to prom when otherwise buying a dress and accessories might be too expensive, Hogue said.

When the girls come in for the free Prom Project program, it takes about 45 minutes per girl to find about three dresses to choose between, find shoes and jewelry and have seamstresses do small alterations in-house. Girls can try on dresses at the church as well. They call the girls “princesses” and call choosing shoes going to the “slipper fairy” and choosing jewelry going to the “glitter fairy.” The seamstresses are called “sewing fairies.” They also have a “Magic Mirror” the girls do a spin in once they’ve found their dress, and everyone claps, Hogue said.

“Everybody here is so loving toward the girls, and I call it ‘slapping sugar’ on them,” she said. “Everything is gorgeous, you’re beautiful, you’re awesome.”

Because they have a large range of sizes and styles, they also serve girls of all shapes, sizes and tastes. The girls get excited when their friends find their fit, too, Hogue said.

Hogue said she is thankful the church provides her a space to do the program and “a closet to put all my sparklies in.” When she started the program, she was inspired by the Cinderella Project and Little Cherubs. Since Danville is her hometown, she wanted to do something with prom dresses locally, so the pastor allowed her to start the program locally under its own name. So she gathered volunteers, they started a committee and the dresses and donations came flooding in.

The Prom Project accepts donations year-round.

“It’s very rewarding,” Hogue said.