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VCHS senior hosts “Formals for Everyone” shop to help all students dress their best for fall occasions


A senior at Vandalia Community High School is offering an opportunity for area students to find a no-cost dress option for special occasions.
Emma Hamilton is hosting “Formals for Everyone,” a pop-up shop with a variety of dresses to choose from, all free of charge. The shop will be held in the gym of the St. James Lutheran Church in Vandalia, 727 W. Gallatin St., on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Emma Hamilton stands besides the collection of donated dresses she has set up in her Formals for Everyone pop up shop, which will be held Sept. 10 and 11 at St. James Lutheran Church in Vandalia. Photo by Leah Williams

Hamilton said the idea for the project came from a prompt in her application to enter the National Honor Society. After searching for possible projects with her mom, they stumbled on the resale shop for prom and Homecoming dresses.

“I saw that and thought that is something I could do, and I would love to help the community find the dress that they need,” Hamilton said.

Her original plan was to only accept 50 dresses but Hamilton was thrilled to learn that there were many who were willing to open and clean out their closets for the cause.

“I shed a tear while I was counting them,” she said. “I’m just very grateful for all of the support.”

Hamilton has collected 63 dresses that would be the perfect fit for Homecoming, prom, 8th grade graduation or any other formal event. She said the sizes range from zero to 20, and more than a few still have the tags on them.

Shoppers are welcome to peruse through the racks and try on the dresses before they find the perfect one.

“We will have dressing rooms set up in the gym, and anyone who finds something they want can feel free to walk out the door.”

Any donations received will be given to charity, Hamilton said. Anyone who leaves with a dress can enter for a chance to win a basket with gift certificates to use on their special night. The idea came from Brenda Protz, and the basket is donated in honor of Holly Lidy and Jenna Protz.

Hamilton said she is planning to host a second shop in the spring just in time for prom season.

Emma Hamilton shows off one of her favorite dresses that will be available at her Formals for Everyone shop.