The 16-year-old freshman plans to wear the black gown to Ambridge Area’s prom next month. She was among several teenage girls who stopped by New Hope Community Church for a dress giveaway event Monday in Ambridge.
“They have beautiful dresses,” said Mary’s mother, Janet Szuchy, of Ambridge, who pointed out that prom can cost hundreds of dollars for couples when factoring in the dress, tux and tickets.
More than 100 new and gently worn formal gowns were put on display inside the church. Various styles also decorated a fence outside to draw people in to try on and take at no cost.
Volunteers estimated about a dozen dresses were taken within the first hour.
The Rev. Rick Thornhill, pastor of New Hope, said about 40 people attended the two-hour event. Thornhill said he remembers struggling over prices years ago when he and his wife, Sherry, attended their prom.
"This would not have had nearly the impact if it was not for Ambridge Connection. We basically made this a spur of the moment event," Thornhill said.
Kimberly Heller, organizer and church member, said the dresses were donated from Victory Family Church in Cranberry Township, which held a similar event on Friday called "The Enchanted Evening."
After perusing the selection, Caitlin Gresham, 16, of Leetsdale found the perfect floor-length gown, complete with jeweled stones.
While her date has not officially asked yet, the Quaker Valley sophomore is certain she'll be attending prom and is now certain of what she will wear.
"We are looking to continue to bless the the community with more events like this one," Thornhill said.
Heller said the extra dresses will be going to Mainstay Life Services, a nonprofit based in Green Tree that provides residential housing to individuals with developmental disabilities. Mainstay has more than 50 residential homes with clients and will be using the dresses when they host a Prom Night on May 9.
Like Ambridge Connection on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.