Operation Deploy Your Dress helps military attend galas
What started off as a simple idea among three Fort Bliss wives to help their colleagues has quickly gained notoriety — like a designer dress flying off the department store racks.
Two weeks ago, Renee Chapman, Yvonne Coombes and Melissa Riely launched Operation Deploy Your Dress, an initiative to collect dresses and formal gowns for military spouses and other women who often have to attend until balls and galas.
“Our first day of deliveries, I unpacked 65 dresses and every day since then it has been very similar to that,” Coombes said. “We have people from all over the country who are sending things and asking if there’s any way to help.”
The trio of Army wives said that attending balls and galas throughout the year can be a costly endeavor, especially for junior enlisted soldiers and their families.
The women are seeking donations of gently used gowns, shoes and accessories—including men's clothing.
Since launching Operation Deploy Your Dress, the founders have received national attention, appearing on Fox News and getting dresses from all over the country. Dresses, both gently worn and brand new, have made their way to Fort Bliss from places such as Alabama, Rhode Island, Arizona and other U.S. cities.
Coombes said that people who wear a gown for a special occasion, even if it’s just once, develop an emotional connection with it. That connection, she said, makes it difficult for people to part ways with their special garments.
“People have dresses that they have only worn one time. They have a connection and they are not willing to pass it out,” Coombes said. “When they are for the military, putting a dress in a box and letting a military spouse wear it, it’s an easy way to support them. That goes a long way.”
Operation Deploy Your Dress has received about 150 dresses so far. Chapman said that they were unprepared for the immediate success of the collection effort.
“I think we are going to get more than 1,000,” Chapman said.
With the social media success of Operation Deploy Your Dress, its organizers are now looking to turn their idea into a non-profit organization that could help distribute dresses to military wives throughout the year. The organizers are reaching out to other military installations in the Untied States. They are working on a logo and designing a website where people can get more information on how to donate.
Operation Deploy Your Dress host a boutique dress giveaway in February at Fort Bliss. Details of the event are still pending.
Operation Deploy Your Dress
Donations of dresses, formal gowns, shoes and jewelry for men and women can be mailed to Renee Chapman, 4705 Snow Street, Fort Bliss TX, 79906.
The group is not accepting monetary donations or wedding dresses at this time.
Information: Operation Deploy Your Dress on Facebook
©2016 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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