Sarah Dunlap, 17, Hannah Scheenstra, 16, Olivia Edwards, 18 and Erica Edwards, 15, left to right, of Western Christian High School Esther Project which collects used prom dresses for resale. (Frank Perez/Correspondent)

Article From DailyBulletin.com

Created: 03/29/2012 05:17:36 PM PDT

UPLAND – Every spring, teenage girls across the country prepare for one of the biggest, and most costly, events of their young lives – the high school prom.

And a group of four Western Christian High School students want to help.

Sarah Dunlap, Olivia Edwards, Erica Edwards and Hannah Scheenstra have formed The Esther Project, which has collected hundreds of gently used formal gowns to resell at a low price for girls who may not be able to afford an expensive prom dress.

“Prom is such a big deal for high school girls. You look forward to it since you’re a freshman,” senior Olivia Edwards said.

“I know girls who have fallen in love with their dress and paid $750 and wear it once. Then it just sits there in their closet.

“I think everyone would want a beautiful dress, but not everyone can afford it.”

The students will be selling the dresses for $25 each from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Pacific Christian Center, 800 W. Arrow Highway, Upland.

Proceeds from the sale will go to Claremont-based nonprofit House of Ruth, which helps women and children dealing with homelessness and domestic violence.

The idea for the project came up at Dunlap’s house, when the girls realized they had to start shopping for their prom on April 21.

“We were like, `I wish I could fit into your dress because I love it and wouldn’t it may be a good idea if we got all our dresses and exchange them with our friends?”‘ Dunlap said.

“Olivia came up with having this huge sale and just get dresses together from all around and sell them for cheap. With the economy and everything like it is now, it’s really expensive.”

The students named their project after Esther in the Bible, Erica Edwards said.

“It’s a woman in the Bible who has a great passion for people and obedience to God and that is someone we would want to look up to and as woman figure other women should look up to her too,” she said.

The girls began letting their peers and school officials know about the sale, which blossomed into a community-wide effort.

“The school has been really, really supportive,” Olivia Edwards said. “They’ve just helped us so much with our idea. We developed it, but they helped us carry it out.”

They held a dress collection March 17 and the donations haven’t stopped.

“They think that it’s a really good thing that we’re doing,” Scheenstra said. “They get really excited about it like `Oh, I have a ton of dresses to donate and I’ve been wanting to get rid of them and have no idea what to do with them. Now I can finally get rid of them.”‘

For more information about the project, call 909-223-5601 or 909-477-1710.

sandra.emerson@inlandnewspapers.com

909-483-8555

@UplandNow