Video: The prom must go on

By Anne Thompson Chief environmental correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/24/2006 7:53:22 PM ET 2006-03-25T00:53:22

This is a story about a pink dress and how it kept one high school prom in Ocean Springs, Miss., from becoming another casualty of Katrina.

“Prom is a glorious time in a young person's life,” says Sue McDavid, “And when I thought they were going to miss that I just couldn't stand it.”

Last fall, in Oklahoma City, McDavid heard from one her former classmates living in Ocean Springs that there might be no prom this year because many of the girls’ families couldn't afford dresses.

For McDavid, it was a call to action to get 250 dresses.

“Lots of service organizations were feeding the necessities of the life,” McDavid says. “I wanted to feed the necessities of the soul.”

For those who have lost so much, a prom dress isn't high on anyone's priority list. So McDavid thought maybe she could buy the dresses or even sew them. Then she called her local newspaper. Five days after the story ran, she had 250 prom dresses and that was just the start. More than 700 dresses came from donors in four states, taking over McDavid’s home.

“Every inch I could think of — I can't even find my vacuum cleaner — covered with dresses,” McDavid says.

In January, she packed them up and drove 800 miles to St. Martin High in Ocean Springs, where the girls went on the ultimate shopping spree. Many pulled the pink one from the rack. Some tried it on. Amber Yarbrough took it home.

Last Saturday, as she got ready for the big night, Amber couldn't help but think of all that's gone, including the home she grew up in.

“I never lived anywhere else,” Yarbrough says. “Then,all in one day, you just lose it all.”

But Amber didn't lose her dream of going to the prom.

“I feel pretty,” Yarbrough said, modeling her pink gown. “I feel like a princess.”

She's a princess thanks to a fairy godmother who discovered what a difference one person can make.

“There's always things that we can do,” McDavid says. “If you just are given the opportunity to act on them, then you should.”

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