STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Before women pick out their wedding dresses, they first pick out their prom dresses.
While prom season is an exciting time for many young ladies, Starkville resident Amy Weaver Ragon knows that the financial stress of purchasing a dress can be challenging for some. In order to ensure all prom-age girls will have something to wear, Ragon created the nonprofit, The Straightened Crown Foundation, to give them their fairytale moment.
“Nobody needs the strain of wondering if they will be able to go to prom,” Ragon said. “We just want something magical to happen for them.”
By the time Ragon’s daughter, Kaitlyn, graduated high school, she had acquired nearly a dozen gowns from formal events, such as pageants, homecoming and prom, throughout her time in school. Ragon wanted to find a way to donate these dresses to someone else who could benefit from them, but she did not know where to go or who to contact.
After looking around at different ministries in the area, she decided to create The Straightened Crown, not only for young girls to have prom dresses but as somewhere where others can donate their formal wear for a greater cause.
“We had about 10 gowns that we just did not know what to do with,” Ragon said. “… Well, we kept saying, ‘I wish there was some organization that we could just donate them to,’ and we decided we could be that organization.”
Ragon and her daughter began The Straightened Crown in March and said they have been “blown away” by donations.
Ragon has received more than 160 dresses and said she hopes to receive more before prom season in the spring.
“As soon as we started it and got the word out, tons of people have donated gowns,” Ragon said.
Because The Straightened Crown only began this year, Ragon and her team have not experienced what a prom season is like for their organization, but she said she is thrilled just knowing girls will get to go to prom and “can’t wait to see the excitement on their faces” when picking out dresses.
“This is really our first rodeo,” Ragon said. “We don’t have any idea on how it’s going to go, but we’re really hopeful for prom season.”
Aside from being the chairwoman of The Straightened Crown, Ragon acts as its tailor as well. Being a third-generation seamstress, Ragon said she plans to undertake all alterations anyone may need.
Ragon said she will always find time to dedicate to The Straightened Crown. Working full time at Mississippi State University and owning her own cake and cookie business, Ragon is busy but still finds time to commit to her cause.
She said she hopes to create other initiatives in the future as a way to utilize the dresses she receives. Several recovery homes have already reached out to her about having a potential “fashion show” to celebrate women graduating their programs.
“They want to have a night where we pamper the ladies and have a fashion show,” Ragon said. “We would just let the ladies borrow dresses for the night, let them wear them and just celebrate this time in their lives and make them feel special.”
Aside from providing gowns, Ragon said she wanted to find a greater purpose within her organization. When girls come for dress fittings, she said she hopes she can minister to them and teach about God’s love for all. While she wants to ensure young women have this milestone moment in their lives, being able to witness to others is her mission not just within this organization, but in life.
“We just want each girl to know they’re special, to know they are loved by God,” Ragon said. “They are very meaningful in this world… It just makes the connection more meaningful than just helping someone find a dress.”