Sisters hold free prom dress giveaway, hope to expand program


By Chris Bavender

Say the word prom and visions of gorgeous dresses and cute couples hitting the dance floor probably comes to mind.

But prom isn’t exactly cheap. The average dress price is $250, which is cost prohibitive for some girls. That’s where Carla Mann and her sister, Lisa Cutshaw, can help.

An example of one of the prom dresses Carla Mann and Lisa Cutshaw offer free for those who may not be able to afford one. (Submitted photo)

“Sadly, when I attended high school, if a family didn’t have enough money to afford all the things that go into the prom, they just couldn’t go,” said Mann, who is an administrative assistant in the Town of Whitestown’s Planning and Community Development Dept. “I’d thought about that many times in my adult life. I had been praying that God would lay a ministry upon my heart that I could do. “I was in my car driving. It really just entered my mind very vividly.

“I immediately called my sister and told her about it and asked her to be a partner with me. She was as excited as I was.”

The sisters held their first free prom dress giveaways in 2018, giving away approximately 75 dresses at two events. The dresses were either donated, bought by the women at a deep discount or purchased at thrift stores such as Goodwill.

This year, Mann and Cutshaw, through their organization Blessings & Bling, will hold prom dress giveaways on the following dates:

  • March 2: Flanner Buchanan Washington Park East – Life Center Ballroom, 10722 E. Washington St., Indianapolis
  • March 9: Birch Bayh Community Center, 715 N. 19th St., Elwood
  • March 16: LifePoint Church, 8540 Combs Rd., Indianapolis

Each event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes shoes and accessories in addition to the dresses. All items are free and the events are open to anyone.

Mann begins planning the events in October. By January and February, she usually spends 30 to 35 hours a month on the project.

“I feel this is very important. My goal would be that any young lady who has a need like this can have a place to come and look for a beautiful dress that makes them feel like a princess without the worry of paying for it,” she said. “You’re only young once, and I’ve thought of the prom as a rite of passage, one of those moments you can look back on and you won’t forget.”

After Blessings & Bling’s will soon become a nonprofit. Mann wants to add other donated services, such as hair and makeup.

New or gently used prom dresses, shoes and accessories can be donated at:

  • Zionsville: Edward D Jones, 262 Ford Rd, Suite 100, Office of Lee Irwin
  • Carmel: Carmel Dental Group, 715 W. Carmel Dr., Suite 103
  • Beech Grove:  The Vault, Hair Salon, 700 Main St.
  • Whitestown:  Whitestown Municipal Complex, 6210 Veterans Dr.

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