Lesley West Hosts 11th Annual Prom Dress Giveaway
April 16, 2014
An estimated 500 young ladies from six IPS schools came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday morning for a special treat. Lesley, the wife of Pacers forward David West, strives to take the burden off of Indianapolis families during prom season by holding a prom dress giveaway each spring.
“David and I always try to give back and we love helping people,” Lesley West said. “When I was younger, a prom dress was $100. These dresses have tags on them for six and seven hundred dollars. The price of going to prom is $100 per couple now, plus eating and getting ready for it, it's a huge expense.
Group-by-group and one-by-one, they went through the different racks on the practice court to find just the right dress. This is second consecutive year Lesley has held a prom dress giveaway in Indianapolis but the 11th year overall, dating back to the West's time in New Orleans.
“When we were in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, there were two and three hundred dollar dresses that got down to $12 so I bought them all,” West said. “I bought 800 dresses at $12 apiece and I gave them away. That's how it started. We wanted to help save the proms because they were canceling everything for them because of Katrina.
“There were girls in here this morning in tears, actually, that told me that if they could not have gotten a dress from here, they would not be able to go.”
There were even more dresses to choose from this year, plus additional giveaways.
TapSnap, an interactive and social photo booth, snapped photos of girls in their dresses and then immediately printed one out for them to take home. There were over 100 pairs of shoes and clutches available to pick from, with hopes of even more being donated next year. University High School came up big, donating over 100 items in less than a week.
Each young lady took home a goodie bag full of items. Gilchrist & Soames donated 1,500 shampoos and conditioners, Saks Fifth Avenue provided makeup and perfume, Lulu's Coffee + Bakehouse gave each girl a coupon, Thrifty Threads contributed personal hygiene products, and toiletry items (mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss) were donated by Indianapolis Gentle Dentist.
“I have gotten a lot of support from the community,” West said. “People that heard about it last year wanted to be involved so it was easier for me to get items for the goodie bags donated.”
There was also a raffle station where a number of items could be won to help with all that goes into prom like makeup, hair, manicure/pedicures, and a limo to the dance. Arni's Restaurant donated gift certificates, as did a number of hair salons. The owner of Radiance Hair Salon also threw in certificates to her boutique and boxing/fitness training.
Two Pacemates, Travasha and Walesska, went around with the girls and helped them each find the dress they were looking for.
“It's a huge stress reliever, not only for the students themselves but for the parents as well because some of these students might not be able to go to prom if it hadn't been for Lesley West's prom drive,” Pacemate Travasha said. “This is an awesome event that can help alleviate some of that stress and give those girls some confidence to have fun and enjoy prom.
Pacemate Walesska on what prom is all about: “I think just the experience of being with your friends, dancing and having fun with everyone.”
Marreha Wright, a junior at John Marshall High School, was very satisfied were her experience and thankful for the opportunity.
“It's really special,” she said. “I'm happy because now I don't have to go stress and look at different stores for a dress. She paid all this money for all these dresses to give back to her community. That's really nice and it took off all the stress off of me.”
Charnae Lasley, senior at John Marshall, took part in the giveaway for the second straight year. She immediately noticed the increased selection.
“It's an honor to be here,” she said. “I do appreciate Mrs. West giving back to the community. It has been a great experience.”
David and Lesley West do a lot for the local community — some off the radar — and they enjoy it all. Two years ago, they put their name on the annual ‘Come to our House’ Thanksgiving Dinner, and they also hold many other local events.
RELATED: Holiday Surprises from David and Lesley West
This event, however, is solely Lesley’s, an avid shopper. And who knows what she’ll do next year to make it even better.
“It has now turned into a day of beauty and it's very fulfilling to see a girl get the dress she really likes and wouldn't otherwise have been able to do so,” she said. “It's so much more than just a pretty dress.”
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