NORTH LIMA, Ohio (WYTV) – One by one, ball gowns are being pulled from boxes at Diva Donations in North Lima, which helps young girls find formal wear that they otherwise cannot afford.
“We try to use the dresses in any way possible we can,” said Kristen Bodendorfer from Diva Donations.
Thousands of the dresses were donated by Toulah Kostoglou, whose bridal shop was destroyed by a fire three months ago.
“They were in the smoke, they were smoke-damaged, but they were in very good condition. I mean, anybody can use them as long as you air them out,” Kostoglou said.
The dresses, some worth hundreds of dollars, will be loaned to high school girls in the area for proms and homecomings.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do right now is see if we can help other organizations in different areas, so we’re trying to, you know, we have girls who come from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia,” Bodendorfer said.
At Boardman High School, dozens of other dresses and shoes from Toulah’s were given to support the local Becca’s Closet program, which also loans them to students in need.
“In fact, that’s any student. Becca’s Closet is a non-profit organization that’s nationwide that allows them to come select dresses and they don’t have to pay anything,” said Anne Bott.
Many of these gowns had been sitting in what was left of Toulah’s shop ever since the fire in late July.
However, with the Summit Plaza being demolished this week, workers had to rush to get them out Monday or risk losing them altogether.
“We just called different places and asked if they would want to take the dresses and use them,” Kostoglou said.
For now, Toulah and her staff are using space in a law office near her old location where gowns can be fitted before they’re picked up.
She will be opening a new shop just down US-224 in the next couple of weeks.