Dress for a cause: Discounted dresses raise money for cancer research

Twirling around in the middle of the floor, silver sequins caught the reflection of sunlight streaming in from the large church windows as a Wapakoneta High School junior modeled a dress for her mom.

Salon Gegel sparkled from across the room in the second-hand dress as she waited not only for her mother’s opinion, but that of her boyfriend and friends that came along to a prom dress exchange held Saturday at the St. Joseph Parish Life Center.

“I’ve been searching and we’re cheap,” the 17-year-old said of how they ended up at the event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Her mother attended the event in its first year in 2011 and knew it would be a good place to look.

They’d also looked for prom dresses at a consignment store in St. Marys and a bridal shop in Wapakoneta.

Prices at Saturday’s event were comparable to the consignment store but much cheaper than the bridal store, Salon said.

Gazing at the back of the silver-sequined and black lace dress in a full-length mirror, Salon said those other dresses were really beautiful, but also really expensive and she was definitely considering buying this one.

If not for prom, she would wear it when competing for Miss Summer Moon in a few months.

Beaming, Salon said this would be her first prom.

“I’m not the major girlie girl, but I am so excited,” Salon said.

Her mother, Tammy Gegel said they were looking to see what they could find and she was impressed with the dresses available as a fundraiser for the Rock Out Cancer (R.O.C.) team for the Greater Auglaize County Relay for Life.

“I’m a shopper,” Gegel said. “I like finding deals.”

Her daughter said with four children they have to and she has definitely learned the value of a dollar.

Brenda Littlefield, and her daughter, Courtney, traveled from Anna to the sale, after it was recommended by a friend.

Holding a golden-hued beaded dress up to her daughter, Littlefield said she was definitely excited about the price, which was at least $200 less than they might pay elsewhere. Her daughter had been eyeing one she saw online that cost $350. On top of that, having never tried the dress on, there might be alteration costs also.

“I’m definitely not going to pay that much for something she‘ll wear one time,” Littlefield said. “I’m excited now cause we can afford to get jewelry, shoes and her hair done for prom.”

Courtney tried on another dress Saturday, but then really liked this one after her mother found it.

“I do think it’s really pretty, elegant,” Courtney said.

Thirteen-year-old Patricia Dennis, of Celina, came with her mother and younger sister with her to look for dresses for a pageant she plans to enter this spring.

“Dresses in the store cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars,” Dennis said. “We won’t spend that much. These are usually at least half off.”

Judy Stauser, of the R.O.C. team said their second sale was pretty successful and featured a wide array of styles, colors and sizes of prom and homecoming dresses, which people could donate with full proceeds going toward the team or pay a $10 fee to sell and set their own prices, for which they kept the proceeds.

A seamstress was on hand to talk to the girls about possible alternations and a partnership with Grandview Cleaners and Laundry provided a 20 percent discount for cleaning dresses bought at the event.

Relay team member Melissa Deal said she had heard about similar events in other areas and after buying prom dresses for two years, she thought other parents might appreciate a place where they could purchase like new dresses for a fraction of the price.

“I think the last few years have been financially difficult on people either directly or indirectly, and they want to save and make money,” event organizer Tiffany Fullenkamp said. “This also gives them the opportunity to support a well known organization (the American Cancer Society) on a local level. Few families can say they have never been affected by cancer.”