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Student group collects dresses for local girls

| Friday, January 19, 2018

Junior Bryn Allen has started an organization that will help young local girls; all that contributors have to do is sift through their closet.

Allen came up with the idea of “SheCan Boutique” over this past winter break. The purpose of the organization is to collect gently used prom and homecoming dresses and distribute them to girls in the St. Joseph County school system. The idea, she said, is that financial burdens will not get in the way of letting these girls enjoy a milestone event in high school.

“We don’t want cloth to stand in the way from preventing girls to having a great night,” Allen said. “Kind of our motto … is that it’s not just about having a dress for the night, it’s about fostering self-confidence among girls who would not be able to attend their prom due to financial burdens.”

Allen said she originally got the idea for SheCan Boutique from her roommate, who was sifting through old clothes in her closet. Her roommate was getting rid all the clothes she did not wear anymore and then asked Allen if she wanted an old dress of hers. The event got her thinking about all the dresses she never wears.

“Of all the college students here, probably most of them won’t wear their prom and homecoming dresses anymore,” she said. “The goal is we’re going to be collecting the dresses from girls at Notre Dame and then hopefully the community as well … and then we’ll be partnering with different schools in the area.”

The first collection of dresses will take place Friday in LaFortune Student Center, and the second will take place some time after spring break. In April, Allen plans on holding the organization’s first dress drive.

“We’re hoping that by doing these collections after significant breaks people have a chance to bring their dresses from home,” she said.

Allen said a lot of women at Notre Dame have already shown interest in donating some of their old homecoming and prom dresses. Allen herself has already set aside three of her old dresses. She said both the donor and the receiver benefit, as the donor gets rid of clothes that would otherwise just be taking up space and the receiver gets to attend their school’s dance.

“It’s so much more than being stylish for a night,” she said. “It’s really about empowering young girls and showing them that they should be confident and proud of who they are.”

The donated dresses will be available completely free of charge to in-need girls in the St. Joseph County area. Allen said they might establish an application system where girls can state their need and reasons for wanting a dress, or she might contact with faculty at local schools to see if they know any students who may not be able to attend homecoming or prom due to financial reasons.

Allen said for now, the organization is just working on collecting homecoming and prom dresses, but that she hopes to expand in the future to collect tuxedos as well.

“I do know in general there’s a disparity between girls at Notre Dame and girls in the St. Joseph’s County,” she said. “We want to show every girl that whatever they want to do in this world they can do it whether that’s going to college, pursuing their dream jobs, getting married — that’s something that she can do.”


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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena