Word has gotten out over the past few years about one local ministry’s compassion to serve this community’s young people.

Kristina Killebrew and Second Chance Prom Ministry are set to kick off its eight annual event on Feb. 22 at RIO Revolution Church in Maryville. The sanctuary of the large church is transformed into a giant store filled with more than 3,000 prom dresses and accessories — shoes, jewelry, handbags and more.

Add to that several local vendors who will be here to make appointments for makeup, hair and even spray tans.

And it’s all free to anyone who needs it.

“You don’t even have to live in Blount County,” Killebrew said. Girls who are in need of prom dresses or attire for an eighth grade dance or military ball are invited, and so too, are the males.

Killebrew said when she first started this ministry eight years ago, it was mostly dresses and accessories for the girls. Now they have added Prestige Tuxedo, which will be on-site for guys needing to be sized for a tux.

“We had several hundred attend last year,” Killebrew said. “We are adding more and more elements each year. We have been able to figure out what we can do to make it even easier for families.”

Sign-ups being taken

Attendees are encouraged to sign up in advance at riorev

olution.com. The first 100 at the event will get a free swag bag, Killebrew explained. She said no questions are asked. Moms bring their daughters or grandmothers come with their granddaughters, she said. “We just want to encourage everyone to come and look around.”

The dresses and accessories all have been donated; some are brand new, with the rest barely worn. Killebrew said those who have prom dresses just hanging in their closets can be part of this effort. Second Chance Prom Ministry has partnered with all 14 area Chik-fil-A restaurants, including the two in Blount County. They are drop-off locations for dresses shoes, handbags and jewelry.

Those who donate at Chick-fil-A will receive a coupon for free food.

The items also can be taken to RIO Revolution and Prestige Cleaners locations.

Douglas J Aveda Institute representatives will be at the Feb. 22 giveaway to schedule appointments for those needing hair and makeup, Killebrew said. Sun Tan City is participating and will set up appointments for spray tans.

With more than 3,000 dresses to choose from, girls are likely to find something to love, Killebrew said. Many of the dresses are brand new.

She said those who donate need to keep in mind that new or lightly used items are sought. Volunteers who can make alterations or small repairs will be needed on the day of the event.

This ministry has grown each year. Last year, it had to be moved to the large sanctuary to accommodate all of the dresses and shoppers. It will be there again.

It is Killebrew’s wish that they could have a permanent place to house the dresses so this could be a year-round ministry; there isn’t space at the church.

The sanctuary will be organized with shoes and handbags in an area, and jewelry in another. The dresses will be arranged by size, making it easy for those looking to find the perfect one.

“Each family will be assigned a dress consultant,” Killebrew explained. There are plenty of changing rooms for trying on the attire, too.

Second Chance asks that girls who get the dresses bring them back so others can use them the next year. Some end up doing just that.

Prestige works with the ministry to see that each dress is clean and ready for its second chance.

“As we like to explain it, donate a dress to give it a second chance and another dance,” Killebrew said. The donations can also be tax writeoffs.

The event is still six weeks out, but Killebrew is getting the word out so that shoppers will go ahead and sign up online.

She also needs volunteers who can be dress consultants or provide alterations or many other tasks. There is a huge need for people to help set up on Thursday and Friday.

Volunteers don’t have to be members of RIO or any church for that matter. It is about community helping community, this organizer said. It is a giant undertaking fueled 100% by donations, she added.

The initial idea behind Second Chance was to make sure no one who wants to go to prom or other special event is prevented because they don’t have the proper attire.

Killebrew said good memories are made and everyone who wants the experience should be made to feel special.

“You don’t want any reasons for someone not to experience that,” Killebrew said.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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