Gently Worn With Pride
Collecting Prom Dresses for NCJW/Greater Detroit: A Perfect Fit for Dani Lutz
By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
It's not every girl who goes shopping for a prom dress but, instead of picturing herself on that special night, is thinking first about those who can’t afford such a luxury. But then again, not every high school girl is Dani Lutz.
Over the past two years, Dani – a sophomore at Groves High School – has networked with family and friends to collect hundreds of nearly-new dresses to donate to teens who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend their proms. “I love getting dressed up for special occasions and seeing what all of my friends are wearing. That makes it even more fun to see what sort of donations come in – whether they are relatively new or in some cases dresses that are back in vogue from years past,” Dani says. “And, yes, there have been dresses we’ve definitely been tempted to keep,” she said with a laugh.
Joining forces with a close friend in New York last year, Dani participated in the Princess Project – a nonprofit organization in California where girls in need are invited to shop for donated prom dresses and accessories completely free of charge. Inspired by the concept, Dani worked to spread the word through student council in her school, Facebook, Instagram, friends of friends. With the help of her mother, Beth Lutz, last year Dani collected more than 75 dresses, evening wraps and accessories, then spent a few hundred dollars on postage to ship them off to California.
As enterprising as ever this year, Dani set her sights closer to home, working with National Council of Jewish Women Great Detroit Section (NCJW/Greater Detroit). Focusing her efforts on collecting dresses and accessories for students in the metro-Detroit area, she has provided more than 100 donated gowns and party dresses for NCJW’s first-ever Prom Attire Sale at the council re|sale shop at 3297 W. 12 Mile in Berkley.
A Perfect Fit
As NCJW/Greater Detroit President Sandi Matz, explained,“With the goal to help high school students in need, we’re partnering with Oakland Schools, inviting students who can’t afford even our most modest prices to come in with vouchers from their schools for a free prom shopping spree with us. When we read about Dani’s enterprise in a recent article in The Detroit Jewish News, we immediately called to recruit her as the perfect fit to spearhead teens for the project. She and her mother have both stepped up and generously donated the dresses they had been collecting since January. Working together now, we continue to bring in new choices each week.”
Council re|sale also has enlisted the support of Ron Elkus, owner of The Shirt Box haberdashery where they are collecting gently worn shirts, ties and jackets to donate to the sale. Another sponsor, Dubin Cleaners, has offered vouchers for free cleaning for every purchase from the sale which runs through June 1.
Open to All
For vintage dress shoppers, bargain hunters for designer labels – and clothing donors alike – the Prom Attire Sale at council re|sale is open to the community. Now through June 1, all prom outfits including shoes and jewelry, shirts, ties and jackets are 25% off. Throughout the month, donations for the sale can be dropped off at council re|sale, The Shirt Box, 32500 Northwestern Highway, Farmington Hills, or at participating Oakland County High Schools.
All proceeds from sales go to programs and community service projects of NCJW/Greater Detroit to benefit women, children and families in need. “Our list of projects is long,” says Sandi.“NCJW is a national volunteer organization with a history of more than 125 years of community service and advocacy. Because of the political climate, advocacy is very important to us – particularly on issues of equal pay, voter rights, reproductive justice and child welfare.”
As NCJW/Greater Detroit’s anchor store, council re|sale, has funded community service projects for more than 80 years. Re|design HOME Consignment – a sister store at 32801 Woodward in Royal Oak selling high-end home furnishings at affordable prices – generates additional funding to further benefit more than 20 ongoing projects in the City of Detroit and the Greater Detroit Metro area.
“Think of us as a resale shopping experience for the greater good,” says Susan Gertner, NCJW/Greater Detroit Executive Director. “With donations from the community – clothing and accessories, fine furniture, home furnishings, collectibles of all kinds – the combined proceeds of both stores help us do our vital work.”
“Our Prom Sale is a first and we hope to grow it into a major event – similar to our Back 2 School Store,” Susan continued. “We run a Back-to-School Pop-Up Store where we provide school supplies and clothing for students in Detroit Public Schools. We collect items all year and it’s all brand new – nothing is used. In August, we set up a store in a school in the city, where children can come in to “shop” for new school clothes, head-to-toe – hats, gloves, shirts, jackets, shoes. So often, these are children who have never picked out anything new for themselves. We also have a Backpack Program where we provide 1,250 new backpacks to the Oakland County Homeless Student Program as well as to families in need.”
About NCJW/Greater Detroit
Inspired by Jewish values and reflecting a multitude of needs in the Jewish and general community, NCJW/Greater Detroit works to improve the quality of life of women, children, and families through its various projects, such as Children’s Advocates, Project Friendship for Kadima clients, Kosher Meals on Wheels, Literacy Tutoring and Reading, and so much more. To volunteer, attend an event or learn more, call 248-355-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online.