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High school senior gathers dresses, formal gowns to donate to her peers

Providence Christian School’s Anna Mapstone, shown with some of the gowns, scours yard sales and consignment shops.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Providence Christian School’s Anna Mapstone, shown with some of the gowns, scours yard sales and consignment shops.

By the time she attends Providence Christian's Junior/Senior banquet this spring, Anna Mapstone will have gone shopping for nearly 100 dresses.

And not one of them is for her.

For the past three years, Mapstone has enjoyed dressing up with her peers at the school's annual banquet.

She says there's just one problem:

"It's really expensive."

While picking out her own dress, the high school senior decided she would shop for less fortunate girls to give them the same opportunity for a fun night out, whether it be to a formal, prom, or sweet 16.

Mapstone and her mother, Jane, have scoured yard sales and consignment shops, searching for gently used gowns to give away.

So far, they've collected 68 dresses, spending about $200 of their own money.

"I thought about the girls who aren't able to go because they don't have enough money," Mapstone said.

The generosity of others has thrilled the Mapstones. One woman was selling four or five dresses for $50. After telling the seller about their efforts, she handed Anna the dresses free.

Secondhand Savvy, a Brandon consignment shop, has donated the bulk of the dresses with permission from the dress owners. So far, the store has contributed more than 50 gowns.

"It worked out well," said Shelbi Weeks, co-owner. "We need to get rid of them and they wanted to use them. So it was a good deal."

Weeks says the dresses normally retail from $50 to $600. They've donated all sizes, ranging from a petite 00 to a plus size 22. Some are poofy. Some are old-fashioned, detailed with full beading. And there are a lot of colors.

Weeks says giving the dresses away, in this case, is better than having them pile up and sell slowly.

"We're packed to the brim with dresses. And they're beautiful, beautiful gowns," she said. "It seems like if they can't afford it, they want to go that much more. So I'm sure all of the girls that are getting them here really wanted to go to the prom but didn't want to wear a simple dress."

The Mapstones hope they will reach their goal of 100 dresses by Saturday, when they plan to host a "shopping" event at Victory Baptist Church.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all girls are invited to try on gowns and choose one to take home, free of charge.

"I want them to have a fun time and get to dress up," said Mapstone. "I want all the girls to have an experience."

.Fast facts

Give a gown

You can donate gently worn prom and formal dresses to Anna and Jane Mapstone by calling (813) 765-3458. Or you can leave the dresses at Victory Baptist Church, 4243 E Lumsden Road, Valrico.

High school senior gathers dresses, formal gowns to donate to her peers 02/18/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 10:27am]
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