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Hundreds of girls flock to Ripon for prom gowns

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Hundreds of girls flock to Ripon for prom gowns

Abigail "Abby" Stauffer, 16, from Roseville was ecstatic as she stepped out of a dressing room Saturday morning to show her mother her prom dress selection at Marissa's Closet in Ripon. Her parent...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED March 28, 2010 1:56 a.m.
RIPON — Smiling teenage girls continued to stream in and out of the former Ripon Drug Store building with spectacular prom gowns in hand – a gift of love.

Several weeks ago Marissa’s Closet had some 1,400 dresses to give away.  That number hasn’t changed, because for every dress that is selected from the racks another donated gown takes its place.

The store is open again today at 9 a.m.

While the store location at 400 West Main Street was expecting to be open only through the end of March on weekends, organizer Melinda Shaw said she opened during the past week for teens from Edison High School.

“We sent five cars to Stockton to bring the girls down here,” she said.  Shaw noted that after the school district declined to allow her to pass out fliers, she went to Edison High School where she was welcomed with open arms.

She added that the word has obviously gotten around now in Stockton with more girls making their way to Ripon.  And if the dresses don’t quite fit, they are altered on the spot.  Marissa’s Closet has recruited two more seamstresses to make those alternations possible – all for just a smile.

There was even a group of Ripon ladies who stopped in the store this week and picked out spring dresses they found on the racks – leaving their monetary donations before departing the shop.

Abigail Stauffer, 16, from Roseville, found the perfect dress for her prom at the Ripon store Saturday morning.  She selected a floor-length gown in a watermelon shade.  She, too, left the store with a broad and confident smile.

Frank, manager at Bonded Cleaners in Modesto, continues to dry clean any of the gowns determined to be in need to be a perfect presentation.  He has processed more than 100 dresses.  Bonded also takes care of any of the gowns dropped off at the H&R Block tax locations in the greater Modesto area.

Shaw moved forward with the prom dress project in January that her late daughter Marissa started last year.  It was Marissa’s dream to see every that girl is able to attend her prom – even if she didn’t have a gown.  Marissa was an outstanding student at Ripon High School who cared very much about her fellow teens.

Shaw said she hopes the closet is able to stay a few more weeks in the 5,000-square-foot building that is currently up for sale.  Retired pharmacist Dale Larson has been very giving in allowing them to use his store, she added.

One Ripon man walked into the front door Saturday morning, looked around, and said he hoped this new store would do well and make a go of it.  When told it wasn’t a business and that all the gowns were serving as gifts for teenage girls, he appeared to be astonished.

Alexis Garcia, 11-year-old cousin to Marissa, has been working with the adult volunteers and relatives since the first of the year when the movement was re-launched for the 2010 prom season.

When not carrying in gowns from the communities or cleaning around the shop, she has been putting together two school presentations for a class project.  Alexis has taken pictures and collected news articles that were on display Saturday near the front of the store.  Alexis received an “A” for her artful recording of the activities of Marissa’s Closet. She is a student at the University Charter School in Modesto.

On April 30 from 6:30 p.m. until midnight, the Marissa Alexandria McLeod Scholarship Dinner Dance and Auction is set for the Ripon Community Center to raise scholarships for colleges and trade schools.  Applebee’s is catering the event.  Tickets are $20 per person and may be obtained from Marissa’s booth at the Manteca Street Faire April 10-11 or by calling 613-0836.

The drops off locations for dresses are listed on the group’s website at
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