2015-05-14 / Community

Prom dresses needed for reuse

Teacher wants every girl to experience ‘Cinderella moment’
By Alicia Doyle
Special to the Acorn

Believing every girl deserves to have her own “Cinderella moment” at prom, a teacher at Moorpark High School wants to make sure that teens who can’t afford a dress have the perfect gown for the big night.

“The price of a ticket to go to prom is so expensive. Then you add a gown, which can range from $200 to $300,” said Becky Hayden, a math teacher at Moorpark High.

Nine years ago Hayden started what she calls a “dress closet” in her home. High school girls can come to her home and choose a prom or homecoming dress at no cost from the collection of dresses in the closet. After the event,the teens return the dresses so they can be worn by other girls.

“With all the other prom expenses, many of them can’t afford a dress too. So my dress closet helps them take one thing off their plate expense-wise so they can afford to have that memory.”

Hayden’ s dress closet initially served only Moorpark High students, but its reach has expanded over the years.

“ Now the word is getting out to other girls from Thousand Oaks, Royal and Simi high schools,” she said.

The rising demand means Hayden needs more dresses— every size from zero to 24.

“I need gently used, floorlength dresses in good condition,” she said. “Moorpark High’s prom this year is on May 16, so the immediate need is for prom dresses.”

Hayden is requesting donations of floor-length gowns for prom as well as cocktail dresses for homecoming in the fall.

Anyone who would like to donate a dress can email Hayden at rhayden@mrpk.org to make arrangements for pickup. Dresses can also be dropped off in the front office at

Moorpark High.

“ Every girl should feel beautiful for a night because so many of them don’t have the opportunity to get dressed up,” Hayden said. “This helps them feel amazing for one night. You should see their faces when they come to my closet and find that perfect dress.”

Kristen Johnson, 17, has borrowed two dresses from Hayden’s closet in the past: a Grecian-style teal and brown floor-length gown and one with a purple halter and rhinestone-beaded bodice.

“I would not have been able to afford a dress if it wasn’t for Mrs. Hayden and the closet,” Kristen said. “There were so many different options that she made available to me, and she helped me choose a dress that was the right fit.”

Hayden’s husband, Seth, is proud of his wife’s efforts.

“I think it is an amazing thing that my wife does,” he said. “It does take up a lot of my wife’s time, but it is worth every minute when you watch the girl walk out of our house with a huge smile. It is also awesome to think of the people that have been so generous over the years by donating gowns.”

Hayden started the closet in 2006 with about 30 dresses. She now has up to 300 at any given time.

“I have over 50 that have already been checked out, and word is spreading,” she said. “Moorpark High’s prom alone can attract 500 or 600 girls, and that doesn’t include girls at the other high schools. So I need a lot more dresses.”

Prom and homecoming are once-in-a-lifetime events that girls should be able to experience regardless of money, Hayden said.

“They deserve to have that memory.”

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