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Prom doesn't have to come with a price tag thanks to 'Once Upon a Prom'

"Once Upon a Prom" gives girls prom dresses and jewelry for free. The big prom dress giveaway is Sunday, April 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Junction City Community Center 175 W 7th Ave., Junction City. (SBG photo)

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - Volunteers in Junction City are making sure every teenage girl can make it to high school's biggest night: junior and senior prom.

Linda Bates and Karen Leach are fairy godmothers of sorts. Their event, "Once Upon a Prom," helps girls who cannot afford a prom dress. They collect hundreds of dresses and give them away free of charge, along with jewelry and shoes. The event's name is a nod to Cinderella's fairy godmother, who gave her a chance to go to the ball.

"Prom is a big deal," Bates said. "Girls love that."

"Once Upon a Prom" was started nearly a decade ago. Bates and Leach took over as organizers four years ago. They collect dresses all year long, then host a big dress giveaway once a year.

"When they come in here and see racks and racks of dresses, their eyes get about that big," Leach said.

The event started out with just a handful of dresses, and they have now collected close to 350 dresses of all styles, colors and sizes. But organizers believe they are giving away much more than sequins and satin. They say they are also giving away the feeling of looking pretty and having the chance to experience an important moment in their high school careers.

"It's all a part of growing up," Leach said. "And that's why I think this is so important for the girls. Even if they just get to go one time."

The dresses are free of charge, except for one small request.

"All we ask from you is a big smile," Leach said." And have a wonderful time."

Leach and Bates collect dresses all year long. You can drop off donations at the Junction City Community Center or at the My Little Children store in Eugene.

The big prom dress giveaway is Sunday, April 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Junction City Community Center 175 W 7th Ave., Junction City. Any girl going to prom is welcome to stop by and try on as many dresses as she would like.

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