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Women Helping Others: one prom dress at a time

Thursday is International Women's Day and here in Western New York, women are stepping up to support one another.

At Zion Lutheran Church in Gasport, women work together to help their community in a group called "WHO." WHO stands for Women Helping Others.

Each spring, one of the group's projects is a prom-dress giveaway.

At three different locations around Western New York, the women of WHO collect dresses to give out to teens for free so they can go to their high school dances.

When this started five years ago, volunteers were pulling dresses from their own closets.

But now, they have more than 5,000 donated dresses in sizes 0 to 22 and brands like Ralph Lauren and Ashley Stewart.

In addition to dresses, they have donated shoes, purses, jewelry, make-up and anything else someone would need for a high school dance.

Organizer Paula Travis said it is not just about a teen getting a dress to go to a dance. There is more happening in the process.

"It's about us building their self-esteem because a lot of the girls that come to us have been bullied in school," Travis said. "Have been shamed because of their size or where they live so for them to come in and shop just like they would shop at a boutique through our dresses, one on one. It gives them a sense of pride."

Becca's Closet is a national organization dedicated to the legacy of a Florida teen named Rebecca who believed every girl should get to go to prom despite any financial situation.

Rebecca was killed in a car accident in 2003 but her friends and family carried on her mission.

There are three sites where you can find dresses in Western New York: Zion Lutheran Church in Gasport, Confer Plastics in Niagara Falls and the Niagara Bible Camp in Olcott.

Becca's Closet holds dress distributions almost every week during prom season. The next giveaway is Saturday from 10 to 2 at Zion Lutheran Church. You can find more events here.

You don't need any sort of qualification to get a dress. They only ask that you are getting the dress from a school-sponsored event.

If you would like to donate dresses to Becca's Closet, you can drop them off at Zion Lutheran Church in Gasport or contact Paula Travis at ladytinny559@gmail.com.