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Marissas prom dress dream has no bounds
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RIPON – The crowd around the Marissa’s Closet booth at the Crossroads Street Fair was almost overwhelming for Melinda Shaw.

After losing daughter Marissa McLeod last year, Shaw opted to fulfill her daughter’s wishes by continuing a program that she had begun to provide prom dresses to underprivileged girls free of charge.

 “It’s the reason that I get out of bed every morning,” she said. “Seeing that dream that she had is so important. And it has become so big in such a short amount of time – it’s truly remarkable.”

While drawing young women from places like the foothills and the Bay Area has been the norm, Marissa’s Closet is about to go national.

According to Shaw, the group is working with a teenaged girl in Kansas afflicted with a disease that has left her wheelchair bound the majority of her life. Through the Internet and the use of digital photos, the girl – who wouldn’t otherwise have the means – has the chance to not only wear a dress, but also choose from a whole assortment that continues to grow as word spreads about the program and its success.

The combination of T-shirts and sweatshirts being sold on Saturday as well as the donations that were accepted will help carry on the legacy of Marissa and the unique vision that she had – Shaw hopes – for years to come.

“This has come so far in such a short amount of time, and to think that so much of this was through word-of-mouth,” she said. “I couldn’t possibly begin to say how grateful I am to the community and the people that have supported us and made all of this possible. This isn’t something that we want to go away anytime soon.”

Marissa’s Closet is currently operating out of the old Ripon Drug and Gift Store at 410 W. Main Street. Those seeking assistance can stop in on any Saturday in April from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or call 613-0386 to schedule an appointment for a different day. For more information, and a chance to order some of the new T-shirts and sweatshirts that will help keep the program operational, visit