Students collect 100 dresses for Abby's Closet

Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - National Charity League members (from left) Zoe Kiemel, Abby Castle and Ellie Howie hold up some of the  dresses students donated to Abbys Closet.Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools banded together to give other teens a chance to shine at a formal dance.

The National Charity League, Lake Oswego Chapter Class of 2016 (NCL) — a group open to all area teens — organized a dress drive for Abby’s Closet last week at both high schools, and students collected about 100 dresses, a dozen pairs of shoes and three handbags.

Abby’s Closet is a West Linn-based nonprofit organization that donates gowns and accessories to girls who want to attend a formal dance but don’t have the dollars to purchase the often-pricey dresses, shoes, jewelry and hair accessories that such events require.

Uniting the schools was Lakeridge junior Ellie Howie’s idea. New members of the Abby’s Closet Student Advisory Board (SAB) must hold a dress drive, and Howie said she was thrilled with the idea of helping other girls enjoy a high school rite of passage.

“Also, I like fashion, so I thought it would be a fun opportunity,” she said.

When Howie started planning the drive, the NCL member first thought of making it a competition between the schools. But something changed, and camaraderie grew while competitiveness faded away.

“It’s a good way to bond between the two and come together for one main cause, rather than doing two things,” said Lakeridge junior Sam Willis, an NCL and SAB member.

NCL’s involvement is new, and its organizational strength boosted the number of donated dresses. Last year, Lakeridge contributed about 15 dresses to the drive; this year, Howie said, the Pacers donated 45.

Employing more kinds of publicity to spread the word about the dress drive is one way NCL members helped boost donations, said Abby Castle, a Lake Oswego High School junior.

To make it happen, students used social media, an email campaign, posters, flyers and school announcements over the loudspeaker. Students also sent out a media release, resulting in press coverage in The Review.

The results are exciting, according to Castle. “We were really surprised with how many we got,” she said.

LOHS junior Zoe Kiemel said it’s been “really awesome seeing everyone” help out.

“I think it was timed well with winter formal,” held Jan. 31, Kiemel said.

Opportunities through Abby’s Closet

Abby’s Closet is offering a $1,000 scholarship, and applications are due Feb. 27. The organization also will be giving away dresses to girls in need during the Great Dress Giveaway, held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on March 28 and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on March 29 at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland.

Learn more about the event and the scholarship at, or call 503-722-1524.

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
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