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MCINCR - Marine Corps Base Quantico

"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

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Volunteers help spouses find a free, special gown for the birthday ball

By | Marine Corps Base Quantico | October 25, 2016


Maya Earls


Marine Corps spouses gathered at the Religious and Family Services Center Saturday morning and waited for their turn to become their own Cinderella.

With the USMC Birthday Ball only a few weeks away, the Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) hosted their second annual ball gown giveaway. The event started at 9 a.m., and by noon, more than 70 women walked through the chapel’s doors. They had more than 100 donated dresses to choose from that came in all colors, styles and sizes.

“Our purpose is to help alleviate the costs that come with attending the birthday ball,” said Christina Lemons, vice president of outreach with the CWOC.

At the center, the women were first given a ticket and then sent to a waiting room. Little glass slippers and white carriages were placed on the waiting room tables, in keeping with the Cinderella theme. A stylist was in the waiting room to help the women create a perfect hairdo for the ball. Children could even watch a movie playing in the nursery. Next, the women are called by number into the room with the gowns. This process allows the Marine spouses to have time to look at the gowns without being rushed.

“We wanted to make sure it’s not a Black Friday experience,” Lemons said.

Inside the ball gown room, several volunteers act as fairy godmothers, helping the spouses find the perfect dress. Already with a few dresses hanging on her arm, Latoya Hook said she was getting ready for her fourth ball.

“I’m looking for a dress in a bright color because I’ve always stayed with blacks and blues,” Hook said. “All these dresses are different, so I’ll just have to try on and see.”

Donated dresses are accepted weeks prior to the ball gown giveaway. Organized by size, some dresses had glitter and beads. Others were more simply styled, with flower designs on the hemline, for example. This year someone even donated a wedding dress. Joyce Murphy, Marine Corps Community Services volunteer coordinator, said there is always the special moment when the spouse comes out of the changing room in the perfect gown.

“I like watching the Marines smile, knowing how great their spouses will look that night,” Murphy said.

Daniel and Chikako Ferris shared that moment on Saturday. One of the first dresses Chikako tried on was in a deep blue shade, fit well and made all of the volunteers simply say, “Wow.”

“I just want to say thank you to who dropped it off,” Daniel Ferris said as they left with the dress.

The CWOC also accepted donated accessories like shoes, jewelry and purses. Lemons said one woman donated an entire box of size 10 designer shoes. “People have been very generous,” she said. Once a dress is picked, volunteers help put it in a special garment bag. Then the spouses are off to prepare for the ball.

Murphy said she hopes the ball gown giveaway helped more spouses experience the birthday ball with their Marine. “Sometimes the difference between the spouses accompanying the Marine to the ball is the gown,” she said.

“There are so many services on base that people should take advantage of,” Lemons said. “We’re here. You’re not alone.”

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