Fairy tales do come true for some Hampton Roads students

A volunteer for The Helpers Organization helps a local high school student hurting the Helpers 2016 "Fairy Tale Prom" Southside Daily/Courtesy of The Helpers Organization)
A volunteer for The Helpers Organization helps a local high school student hurting the Helpers 2016 “Fairy Tale Prom” (Southside Daily/Courtesy of The Helpers Organization)

NORFOLK — Some fairy tales do come true, especially if you’re part of the Helpers Organization.

The Norfolk-based nonprofit offers housing and other assistance to the homeless and low-income families in Hampton Roads. They are embarking on their second “Fairy Tale Prom,” which culminates in a temporary store where students from low-income households can buy prom dresses at little cost.

The Helpers collect “gently used” formal dresses from residents and clothing stores, then set up a pop-up shop in Military Circle Mall where students can shop.

Tiesha Coleman-Hall, a board member for the Helpers and coordinator of the Fairy Prom event, said the organization asks for a $10 donation from students, which includes the dress, a free pair of shoes, as well as accessories such as necklaces and earrings. 


“I’ve always loved the prom — always loved seeing these young people grow into adults through the prom,” Coleman-Hall said.

This year the Helpers will expand their dress offerings to ring dance and 8th grade dance, so they’re asking for semi-formal wear, as well as a range of sizes. During the first Fairy Tale Prom, Coleman-Hall said the Helpers collected more than 600 dresses.

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The Helpers reach out to guidance counselors in the schools systems, who help identify those who may be low-income and in need of assistance in purchasing a dress for prom. There is also an online sign-up for those who are interested.

“We operate on the honor system,” Coleman-Hall said. “We trust that the people who are truly in need will identify themselves.”

Any student in Hampton Roads in need of a formal dress for a dance is eligible, all they need to do is bring their student ID to the “shopping event.”

That event will be on April 13 and 14 at Military Circle Mall, which has donated a space to display dresses and “give the girls that shopping experience,” Coleman-Hall said.

More than 600 prom dresses were donated for the April 2016 "Fairy Tale Prom" organized by the Helper Organization (Southside Daily/Courtesy of The Helpers Organization)
More than 600 prom dresses were donated for the April 2016 “Fairy Tale Prom” organized by the Helper Organization (Southside Daily/Courtesy of The Helpers Organization)

Students will have a “personal shopper” to help them select up to four dresses to try on. There will also be a raffle drawing for “Fairy Tale Prince and Princess,” Coleman-Hall said. The raffle winners will receive a free makeover, dinner and limousine service to and from the prom. 

Those interested in donating dresses for the Fair Tale Prom can email the Helpers, and a representative from the Helpers can pick up donated dresses. Drop-off locations for donated dresses are forthcoming.

For more information, contact Coleman-Hall at 757-435-0690 or Tina Newbury at 757-575-2683.

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