Shine bright like a diamond: Jewels program provides prom dresses for young women in Morgan, Lawrence counties
Picking out the perfect prom dress is somewhat of a rite of passage for many young women in high school – but for some, it’s barely out of reach. That’s a gap the Jewels program has tried for more than a decade to bridge, and the effort continues to grow every year.
Founded in 2012 by Sarah Morris, owner of Hartselle’s The Something Blue Shoppe, Jewels provides high-end prom gowns and accessories to young women in Morgan and Lawrence counties who otherwise could not afford them.
Each year, when prom season ended, Morris had inventory that needed to be moved out to make space for new product, according to Jewels chairperson Lang Sims.
“Instead of donating these dresses to organizations outside of our community, she had the idea for the exclusive, by invitation only, event,” Sims said.
“Each school is given invitations and the girls are selected by representatives of their school – a counselor or teacher. They are chosen based on need, but also on character.
Sims said each attendee is assigned a helper who encourages and “dotes over them” and “makes them feel like they are shopping in a prom store for their dream prom gown.”
At the end of their appointment, they walk away with a prom gown and accessories to wear on their special day. The girls do not pay for anything, and the dress is theirs to keep.
More than 40 young women participated in the Jewels program this year held Feb. 10-11. Sims estimated the total of participants since the program’s inception being between 300-400.
The event is held annually at the Morgan County Board of Education and Sims said it takes a small village to make it come to fruition every year.
“It takes several hours to set this up, put on the event and then to take it down and put it all back in storage,” Sims said.
Jewels operates completely on donations, she added. The program’s largest cost is the storage unit that costs $2,580 per year. To make a donation or to sponsor the Jewels program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next year, Sims will pass the torch to RaJane Johnson.
“I have been the chair since it began, and while I will still be involved just as I have every year, it is time to pass the opportunity on to someone new,” Sims said. “A fresh perspective is a good thing. RaJane is going to do a fabulous job.”