Get a prom dress for $5

Courtesy photo
IT TAKES LOTS of time and effort to host the annual Melissa’s Closet and Crystals’ Jewelry Box which will take this Saturday at the Godley Park District. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. dresses for prom and other special occassions will be on sale for $5 each thanks to the efforts of Whitmore Ace Hardware who started the even and asks for volunteers starting Friday at 9 a.m. and then on Saturday at 8 a.m. to assists shoppers and help tear down starting at 1 p.m. This photo shows many of the helping hands who contributed last year.

Godley Park District’s gymnasium will transform into a prom boutique this weekend to prepare for the influx of hundreds of local high school girls and their parents searching for the perfect formal dress.
This Saturday, March 2, marks the 11th year of Melissa’s Closet and Crystal’s Jewelry Box, an annual event held to provide girls with prom dresses for just $5, as well as jewelry, shoes and purses to complete their look.
Over the years the organization has helped dress 4,500 girls at an affordable cost for one of the biggest days of their high school careers.
While they’re at the event hunting for the perfect dress, the girls can also get their hair and makeup done.
“The total intent is to make them feel special for a day,” said Laurie Becker, coordinator of Melissa’s Closet and Crystal’s Jewelry Box.
Last year, Becker said they sold 706 prom dresses. Dresses are available in all sizes, long and short, and the selection this year could be upward of 2,000 dresses.
Each year, some dresses are purged from the collection and donated to local charitable organizations.
The event doesn’t just happen on its own. Becker said over 100 volunteers usually come out to help hang up and sort dresses in the days leading up to the event.
Staff at Whitmore Ace Hardware began Melissa’s Closet and Crystal’s Jewelry Box to honor Melissa Michalowski and her friend Crystal Carr. The two friends were both Reed-Custer High School seniors when they were killed in a car accident in 2008.
Michalowski worked at Whitmore Ace Hardware in Braidwood, and she’s remembered for her happy attitude and smile. The staff wanted to do something positive in honor of Michalowski, and knew that many students her age struggled to afford the high cost of prom.
The organization began selling 120 dresses for $5 out of a classroom at Reed-Custer High School, and as the years went on the event grew into what it is today.
Becker recommends that prom shoppers get there early this Saturday.
“It’s a fun atmosphere,” said Becker.
Gently used prom dresses to new are accepted all year long in preparation for the big event each year in March. Donations can be dropped off at any Whitmore Ace Hardware location.
Melissa’s Closet and Crystal’s Jewelry Box will take place on Saturday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Godley Park District, 500 S. Kankakee St. For more information visit
Volunteers are needed Friday in Godley starting at 9 a.m. Many hands are needed to set up dressing rooms and tables for jewelry, shoes, purses and the stage area for the beauticians. Also all the dresses need to be displays on racks.
On Saturday volunteers start at 8 a.m. entering through Door C. They help with checkout, kitchen coffe and cookies, returning dresses from the dressing room, assisting students and more.
Take down begins at 1 p.m. Saturday when volunteers will condense and bag dresses, box up shoes, take down decorations and move racks into storage. The clean up is usually completed by 3:30 p.m.