Jenna Hansroth, 17, a Berkeley Springs High School senior and Miss Morgan County 2011, is creating a new way for girls to prepare for prom while saving money.
A time of year anticipated by many high school girls, prom season is just about here. That's why Hansroth is hosting the Formal Flip, giving girls in the four-state region a place to sell, to donate or to buy used formal dresses in good condition.
The Formal Flip will be Saturday, Jan 15, at the First United Methodist Church, 49 S. Green St. in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. From 9 to 11 a.m. anyone can bring in dresses and register to sell them. The doors will then be open from noon until 5 p.m. for buyers.
Lori Hansroth, Jenna's mother who helped her to coordinate the location and time for the event, said anyone interested can either register to sell their dress and give 10 percent of the profit as a donation. Or they can donate the dress outright and have all the proceeds from the dress benefit Lyme disease.
The event will give people with homecoming, prom, bridesmaids or any type of formal gowns in their closets the opportunity to provide the next group of prom attendees a deal on formal attire while donating to local Lyme disease education.
Lori Hansroth said 10 percent of the profit goes to support a local organization, the Morgan County Advocates for disAbility Awareness (MCAdA), which will use the donation for Lyme disease education programs in the area. Jenna was also a founding member of the organization.
Jenna said she was diagnosed with the disease about a year ago when she was 16. Lori Hansroth explained that Jenna also has Type 1 diabetes and that they noticed significant changes in her health two years ago. Eventually, doctors diagnosed her with Lyme disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2008 there were 2,218 cases of Lyme disease reported in Maryland, 3,818 cases reported in Pennsylvania, 933 cases reported in Virginia, and 135 cases reported in West Virginia.
The total number of Lyme disease cases reported by the CDC in 2008 in the United States was 35,198. However, according to the CDC only 10 percent of Lyme disease cases that fit the definition are reported.
The idea for the Formal Flip began after Jenna purchased her dress last year for her junior prom. When prom season began this year, she remembered the steep prices of formal dresses. She decided the Formal Flip would be a good way to support Lyme disease education, while giving other girls a deal on dresses.
"It's a way for us to make some money, save some money, and also help charity," Jenna said.
She explained that because many senior girls want to put money toward college applications, SATs and ACTs, and savings for college next year. The expense of a prom dress can be a bit much.
The majority of prom dresses cost between $100 and $400, according to PromGirl.com. Though according to the site, there are also many other expenses that could increase a girl's prom budget, including the cost of dinner, rental of a limousine, formal hair, make-up and flowers.
"I've talked to a lot of girls this year and they really didn't want to spend so much money on their prom dresses for their senior year," Jenna said.
Prom is a special event for many young girls, and Jenna said they want to "feel like a princess for that one night." She is hoping the Formal Flip will give that opportunity at a more reasonable price.
"We're all trying to go 'green' right now and it's another way to recycle," Jenna said.
Recruiting people to volunteer and to participate is Jenna's focus now. She is hoping that people will be interested in the event and will "help us out a little bit to further Lyme disease education and support their community."
Jenna explained that she's hoping that people from the quad-state area will attend the event and that there will be a variety of dress styles and sizes, "so everyone has something to look at and try."
"If I can just help several girls out ... that'd make me happy," she said.
If you go ...
What: Formal Flip
When: noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 15.
Where: First United Methodist Church, 49 S. Green St., Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
Contact: Call Jenna Hansroth or Lori Hansroth 304-596-3309 for more information
If you would like to make a donation:
They are still accepting donations. From 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. sellers can arrive and register to sell their dress and formal wear. This event is not for men's wear. The sale will begin at noon and end at 5 p.m. Sellers should return to retrieve any unsold items between 6 and 7 p.m. After 7 p.m. any unclaimed items will be donated to other local charities.
For more information about the Morgan County Advocates for disAbility Awareness (MCAdA): search for its page on Facebook.