Melody Davenport had a notion as she sorted inventory in the Trinity High School Clothes Closet.
"I thought, if these students aren't able to get clothing for everyday school, how will they get anything for special occasions like prom?" she said.
So the organization, which for years has collected regular clothes and distributed them free to students of modest means, began targeting threads of a higher calling: prom dresses.
The organization recently received approval from the Bedford City Council to operate the HEB Prom Closet at a city-owned house.
Nonprofits that collect and distribute girls' formalwear have become more prevalent as the economy forces folks to cut expenses. Many of them are organized and listed by such umbrella agencies as DonateMyDress.org.
We're All About the Dress was born two years ago to serve girls in the Birdville school district, said its founder, Janie Tillery-Wood.
"It's because of the economy," Tillery-Wood said. "It's so bad now there are many girls who can't go to prom because of the price of the ticket and the prices of dresses and accessories. If I can take care of the dress and accessories, they can afford the ticket. They worked all year and they deserve to go to the prom."
In its third year, We're All About the Dress is outfitting girls from all over Tarrant County and beyond.
"I was surprised to get calls from Dallas," Tillery-Wood said.
Girls with high school ID cards may choose from more than 2,000 dresses in Tillery-Wood's inventory. Accessories, shoes and handbags are also available. Everything is free, and whatever they choose, they keep.
The fledgling organization in Bedford has a slightly different game plan.
Davenport said the Clothes Closet had more than 100 formal dresses when the idea for the HEB Prom Closet was floated.
"We forwarded everything to them and became a collection spot," she said.
The HEB Prom Closet will be at a 1,100-square-foot house at 1725 Bedford Road.
Brenda Harris, chairwoman of the organization, said the house provides a temporary place to display hundreds of dresses, shoes and accessories as well as a few tuxedos and suits for boys. That's where the difference between this group and those like Tillery-Wood's begins, Harris said.
The HEB Prom Closet is intended to serve both sides of the dance floor, as well as areas that its predecessors never dreamed of.
"We hope to become a year-round outreach not only for prom but anytime someone needs a special-occasion outfit," Harris said. "If it goes right, we're not only talking students from ninth grade up but also their parents if they need an outfit for a one-time event: an interview, a wedding, a company Christmas party."
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620