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Love That Dress collection party set for Aug. 11

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

PHOTO BY CAROL ORR HARTMAN Love That Dress returns to Tahitian Gardens for its second annual collection party to benefit PACE Center For Girls of Lee County. Standing, from left, are Rachael Thiemann and Marcos De Araugo, Shiny Objects; Susan Flinn, C. Turtles; Blanaid Colley, Bailey’s Coffee Bar; Beena Mansukhani, Sanibel Resort Wear; Kris Van Olst and Ashley Van Olst, Cheeburger, Cheeburger; Jill Nichols, Synergy and Sanibel Sole; Josh Stewart, Adventures in Paradise Outfitters; Christin Collins, PACE; and Barb Harrington, Royal Shell Companies/. Kneeling, from left, are Bridgit Stone-Budd, Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce and Mark Blust, The Pawnbrokers Restaurant Group.

Dig out those dresses hanging in the back of your closet and give them a second life by bringing them to Tahitian Gardens Aug. 11 for the Love That Dress collection party. One or more new or gently used dresses are your admission to the soiree.

“Last year’s party was a great success,” said Barbara Harrington with The Royal Shell Companies, hosts of the event. “Our community responded with close to 400 dresses.”

Love That Dress helps support PACE Center For Girls of Lee County, which offers year-round counseling and academic services for girls ages 12 to 18. These young ladies are facing challenges like foster care, domestic violence, abuse and neglect to coping with the death of a parent, substance abuse and family history of incarceration.

“PACE has a 97 percent success rate for girls not re-entering the juvenile justice system within a year of leaving us,” noted Melissa Simontis, director of development with PACE. “That is an average savings to the taxpayers of $30,000 per girl not in a residential juvenile facility.”

Since 2007, PACE Lee has helped nearly 300 girls find success in school, generate positive relationships with families and peers and become productive members of the community. All proceeds from Love That Dress benefit PACES’s mission to provide girls a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy.

“Many PACE supporters from the mainland joined with Sanibel locals for an evening of fun, tasty treats and raffle prizes,” noted Harrington about last year’s inaugural Sanibel collection party. “This year, we are adding a fashion show with a twist.”

The Love That Dress concept was conceived in 2009 by Christin Collins with Lee Memorial Health Services, when a group of volunteers decided to throw a dress exchange party naming PACE as beneficiary. Since then, the non-profit organization has trademarked Love That Dress for its 17 centers located throughout Florida.

“It is really great to see it grow,” said Simontis. “I think it’s spiraled into this fun affair, making it a win-win for everyone.”

This year, Mark Blust with The Prawnbroker Restaurant Group will provide hors d’ oeuvres and beverages for the collection party, while Robert George of New Beginnings Events will be spinning the tunes. Each store within the Tahitian Gardens shopping center, located at 1975 Periwinkle Way, will have one or more models available to talk about their outfits and where each piece can be found. Ladies will be encouraged to visit each store and have the models sign their card for something special. There will be an overlap of clothing and accessories in each store.

Raffle tickets will be available again this year — six for $5 and guests get to choose the items they would like to win. Norman Love Confections will be on hand until the last piece of chocolate is gone. Men are invited to the dress party, but they too must bring a dress for admission.

“Any type of dress will be accepted from sundresses to formals to wedding dresses,” said Harrington.

Dresses collected at this party and all collection parties in Lee and, for the first time, Collier County — will be professionally cleaned and resold at nominal prices during the main Love That Dress event Aug. 31 at Embassy Suites Hotel in Estero. Tickets to the main event are $25 and will be available only online at www.lovethatdress.org at 8 a.m. Aug. 1.

To attend the dress collection party at Tahitian Gardens, which is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., RSVP by calling 239-333-3575 or email Harrington at barb.h@royalshell.com by Aug. 8. For more details about Love That Dress, visit www.lovethatdress.org/lee.

If you are unable to attend the collection party, you can still donate a new or gently used dress at Adventures in Paradise Outfitters, 2019 Periwinkle Way. Start gathering your dresses and someone else will “love that dress!”