Daughter-mother duo behind Abby’s Closet are latest ‘Be the Chan - KPTV - FOX 12

Daughter-mother duo behind Abby’s Closet are latest ‘Be the Change’ winners

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Abby Egland and her mother Sally sort through thousands of dresses to arrange them by size and color for the next big prom gown giveaway by Abby’s Closet.

Abby and her mom started the non-profit 13 years ago after trying to decide what to do with her prom dress while packing up her closet before she headed off to college.

“It had a lot of special meaning to me. I wanted it to go to another high school girl,” Abby said. “I have three older brothers and no one to give it to, so we started thinking what do we do with it, and her boss at the time suggested we start a non-profit.”

Sally began to research the idea and found that other non-profits either didn't really include prom dresses or weren't all inclusive to any and every girl who needed a gown.

“So we started emailing our friends and asked if they had gowns, which they did. And I think within four months we had over 1,000 gowns donated,” Sally recalled.

The mother-daughter pair worried that without a big budget and staff, few girls would know about or show up to their first giveaway.

However, more than 350 girls lined up for dresses before that first event even opened, and 13 years later, Abby's Closet continues to grow and evolve.

“Now we're giving away college scholarships, we have a student advisory board. So certain things that have just grown over the years,” Abby explained. “I never dreamt that from day one.”

The Egland women love to stress that Abby's Closet is about more than just a dress, or more than just the 20,000 dresses they've given away so far. It is about helping teen girls experience a dream.

At their last event in March, they gave away more than 2,400 dresses. They now have volunteers that help with altering and include accessories like shoes and jewelry.

“Obviously it's a girl's dream,” teen Mahalia Lewis said during that last event. “Seeing dresses, sparkles everywhere, beautiful.”

Abby and Sally feel that the confidence the girls feel from the new dresses not only helps the girls themselves but also the rest of the community.

“It's about confidence and empowerment and all that,” Abby said. “They put on the dress and they feel prettier, they stand a little taller.”

“I feel so, so lucky that we stumbled upon this, because it's something special,” Sally added. “We're giving back to the community. We're empowering young women to move forward with their lives.”

The organization is just as focused on education as it is with sequins and satin and now awards $1,000 scholarship each year. They also help high students learn leadership schools through their student advisory board.

Abby and Sally say their continued goal is to make sure that every participant, regardless of ability, size, or gender identity, feels special and confident.

With often having more dresses than girls, the pair also hopes to expand the program to students at more than 250 schools in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Abby also believes continuing to help other girls is what she was meant to do.

“I definitely feel like it was something that was meant to be, and I’m pretty passionate about it now, and I'm happy my life has taken me there.”

For more on Abby's Closet, including how to find a dress or how to donate one, visit AbbysCloset.org.

If you know someone who is making a positive impact in our community, be sure to nominate them for the FOX 12 Be the Change award at kptv.com/BeTheChange.

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