LIVONIA, Mich (WXYZ) — When COVID temporarily shut down a charity dress drive and sale at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Livonia, local boutiques saved their extra stock, expecting the program would soon be up-and-running again.
“Shops like Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor in Northville, Bella Mia out of Plymouth, Bridal Couture out of Plymouth, and several others,” said church elder Pam Phillips.
Thanks to that generosity, and the fact that the pandemic canceled many formal functions women would wear formal gowns to, the church has a a pretty impressive selection right now; around 1500 evening gowns, many of them designer.
And with homecoming season upon us, the surplus couldn’t come at a better time.
“Bless our stores, they knew we weren’t open, we couldn’t do it. So they have held on to them. And now that we’re open they’re boxing them up and I’m going over and collecting them again,” Phillips said.
All the gowns sell for $20. That money goes to church’s mission outreach programs which include Habitat for Humanity projects, Crossroads Soup Kitchen, Gleaners, The Freedom House in Detroit, church mission work and back-to-school giveaways to name a few.
Shanti Simmons learned about the sale and stopped by Thursday night to check out some gowns for herself and her sisters, who are all going to an upcoming gala.
Simmons said it was a great chance to give back and support local philanthropy while also saving a buck.
“What better way to get what I need but also be a blessing to other people.”
Phillips’ daughter started the charity dress program during the economic recession of the mid-2000s. More than a decade later, it’s still going strong despite the pandemic.
“When they first find out it’s a church and they come in and they’re expecting a rummage sale kind of thing and they walk in they’re just shocked.”
Traffic right now is picking up, Phillips said, with homecoming season upon on. She said many shoppers are picking up gowns for weddings, mom proms, holiday parties, and other formal functions. She’s even been approached by local theater groups looking for gowns.
“Virtually every single person has walked out with one or more dresses,” Phillips said.
Due to the pandemic, shopping is currently by appointment only. Availability includes Monday and Tuesday during the day, Thursday evenings, and Sunday before church.
Those interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: DRESSES.
St. Paul's is located on Five Mile Road in Livonia.