Diva Donations provides prom dress assistance for area teens

Kristin Bodendorfer, owner of DIVA Donations, 11836 South Ave., Door E on the second floor, describes the operation as “Mahoning County’s first formal wardrobe.”

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NORTH OF LIMA – DIVA Donations provides lightly used evening dresses, such as prom and bride, to women and teens of the Mahoning Valley thanks to donations from the community.

Kristin Bodendorfer, owner of DIVA Donations, 11836 South Ave., Door E on the second floor, describes the operation as “the first formal wardrobe of Mahoning County.”

DIVA Donations has served more than 3,000 girls in 12 counties in three states since its inception 10 years ago.

For formal events, the dresses are borrowed from DIVA Donations for a deposit of $ 35. This deposit is refunded to teens who complete the Kind Deed Currency program, which provides a dress, shoes, jewelry, corsages, and other extras like free makeup and perfume for girls who complete two hours of community service at any 501 (c) (3) organization in their area.

“If she doesn’t [complete the Kind Deed Currency Program], she always gets $ 20 and we keep $ 15 to clean the dress and maintain the closet ”, Bodendorfer mentionned.

In addition, various businesses in the region have joined forces with Diva’s Donations to offer nail, hairstyling and photography services to festival-goers for their school dances in previous years as well.

The initiative started in 2011, when Bodendorfer her daughter was about to leave the house. While rummaging in her daughter’s closet, they came across evening dresses “which have helped her and her friends to attend many dances”. She and her daughter loved looking for great deals on prom dresses and buying them for teens who couldn’t afford a dress of their own. At the time, Bodendorfer family had 15 formal dresses in their personal collection.

Bodendorfer Told Mahoning Questions she felt “called to do something” with the dresses, so she posted a call to action on Facebook.

“I basically put a message on Facebook that said, ‘The ball is coming. If anyone needs a dress let me know. And if anyone has a dress let me know. I ended up with 200 dresses in three months, ”she said.

At the time, Bodendorfer was also contacting retail stories and requesting their additional inventory. She said a woman donated 600 dresses from her closing Lisbon store.

“My husband [and I], we literally hung racks [and] ladders in my garage. All these dresses were in bags, [so we] hung ladders in my garage while I was trying to find a spot, ”she said.

Now, DIVA Donations is located inside the old school market in the north of Lima and has five rooms within the market, including a ballroom, a return room and an accessory room equipped with a wall of jewelry And shoes. The props room also houses the organization’s five locker rooms and features a large gold mirror and painted silver track for customers to model their potential purchases.

In addition, DIVA Donations has a “Devoted Diva’s Boutique” room, which Bodendorfer described as a place for donations that don’t work for their clientele but can be used in other ways like bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses for minimal cost “like $ 5 or $ 10” .

“Devoted Divas Boutique allows us to collect funds without having to have these big giants fundraisers, “she said.” We have yet to be able to maintain. “

The organization recently opened a Fairy Godmother Room to host children’s parties. The room also serves as a fundraising opportunity for the organization and offers “Princess for a Day” birthday party experiences for 10 kids, plus the party host, for two hours for $ 150.

A party reservation in The Fairy Godmother Room includes party supplies, invitations, party attendant, thank you notes, choice of jewelry of Devoted Diva’s Boutique for the host, a decorated party space, a throne for the host, a disguise selfie station, craft area to create a craft to take home, dance party and DIVA Dons tour.

Extras for the Fairy Godmother’s bedroom are also available such as a hostess princess, tiaras, wands and more.

“What’s really great about The Fairy Godmother Room is every party… we provide a party experience for a foster child” Bodendorfer mentionned.

“So you get two parts for one and you help someone else have that experience that they might never have.”

Bodendorfer Told Mahoning Questions that DIVA Donations has also become a “training center” for adults and adolescents with special needs entering the workforce.

“They would come out on Thursday [before the COVID-19 pandemic] and they would learn merchandising and matching and sizing and all the things you need to do to work in a store of a certain type, ”she said.

Bodendorfer said DIVA donation does not require recipients of dresses or DIVA donation services to provide financial documents in order to benefit the organization.

“You can’t take someone’s year-end income and say, ‘Yes, you qualify.’ No, you are not eligible. You don’t know what people are doing and what is going on in people’s lives. If someone comes to us, we will help them, ”she said.

Currently, DIVA Donations is run by volunteers and open by appointment only.

“We serve both [boys and girls] because, for us, it’s anyone who needs to dress. We do not judge ”, Bodendorfer mentionned.

Visit their website to make an appointment or find out about donation and volunteer opportunities.

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About Genevieve Swain

Genevieve Swain

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