Mikayla Radecki, 17, of Holland, speaks with Living Waters Church member Denise Parmenter during the “Girls Helping Girls” prom dress giveaway Saturday at the Le Roy church.
Some dreams came true this weekend at Le Roy’s Living Waters Church.
The occasion was “Girls Helping Girls,” a prom dress giveaway that marked its sixth year on Saturday. A steady stream of girls and parents browsed among racks of dresses displayed in the church sanctuary.
It had a department-store feel. But the beat of Christian rock music was a reminder that the program is a church ministry born out of compassion.
“Girls Helping Girls” was originally suggested by church member Valerie Moore. She saw it as a way to help families who may not be able to afford a new prom dress, which can cost as much as $400 on average and is usually worn only once.
“God just dropped it on my heart one day, to reach out to those who may be in need,” Moore said. “I know how important it is for a girl to be able to attend her prom.”
In the first year, there were about 75 prom dresses available.
On Saturday the number topped 600 — more dresses, organizers pointed out, than at Kohl’s, JCPenney and Macy’s combined.
Most of the dresses were donated, while others were bought on sale by Moore at the end of last year’s prom season.
Although dresses were free, some families have asked to make financial contributions. This year, the church will forward any donations to the House of Hope being built in Moshi, Tanzania, as a refuge for girls who would otherwise be exploited.
“Girls Helping Girls” draws families from across the region. One visitor was Mikayla Radecki, 17, of Holland, Erie County, who both made a donation and chose a dress for her upcoming junior-senior prom.
“This is very helpful,” said Mikayla, who was holding a purple sequined dress in the church lobby. “You can make a donation and find a dress — it makes things a lot easier.”
Moore has received similar feedback from many girls and families over the years.
“A lot of them are very grateful, and very thankful that we do this,” she said.
“Last year, one of the girls left a comment that said, ‘Now my dream can come true.’ If that was the only dress that we gave away last year, it made the entire event worth it.”
Valerie and her husband Henry Moore have been members of Living Waters Church for 12 years, and help oversee its ministry programs.
One of them is Operation Drumstick, which sends church members to New York City. There, they help serve Thanksgiving Dinners to more than 5,000 people as part of an outreach program of the New York School of Urban Ministry. Living Waters is also preparing to send a team to Tanzania to support House of Hope.
Closer to home, Living Waters offers dinners and picnics for residents of local apartment complexes.
“Our biggest goal is outreach ministry,” Henry Moore said. “People think about missions as, ‘I have to go to another country,’ but ‘missions’ is in our own communities; it’s in our own back streets.
“Yes, we want to be able to send people to Tanzania, Africa, and Mexico — and that’s great,” he said. “But where we can connect the best is right here at home.”
“Girls Helping Girls” was originally suggested by Living Waters Church member Valerie Moore, right, who helps oversee mission programs with her husband Henry Moore.