CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — A Carlisle business owner is finding a colorful way to give girls in her community a little extra sparkle. The project is called “Jessica’s Closet,” and the owner said it is a chance to give back and remember her late relative.
“We’ve been working on this for about two and a half years,” Mary Carlton, who runs Jessica’s Closet said.
Walking into the basement of New Life Community Church in Carlisle, there are glitter, beads, and flowers all over the room. Why? It is filled with racks of prom dresses.
“I wanted to give back to the community, we decided we would take the project over,” Carlton said.
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This project started at Carlisle High School, donating prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them. This year, Carlton, who also owns C Luv Thrift Store, took over, renaming the effort “Jessica’s Closet.”
“Prom shopping is a big to-do, and they go with their friends and…go out to lunch and everything and so, for some of these girls, they don’t have that opportunity,” she said.
Carlton got about 300 dresses from the high school, and Macy’s donated another 200 brand-new pieces.
“Every type of dress you can imagine is here,” Juliana Gianni, a member of Dickinson College’s Delta Nu sorority, said.
Gianni is one of several members of Delta Nu who jumped in to help the effort.
“Helping girls try on their dresses and making it fun and giving hair and nail tips,” Gianni said.
However, this is not just about giving away dresses. The project also honors Carlton’s niece Jessica Snook.
“One night she went to sleep and never woke up,” Carlton said.
At 18, Jessica died of SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, a condition her family had never heard of.
“Not knowing anything about it was just as tragic as her death itself,” Carlton said.
Carlton is using Jessica’s Closet to educate people about SUDEP. She said this is the perfect way to remember her niece.
“One of the things she loved to do was dress up. She would show up for dinner in a prom dress because,” Carlton said. “She’s here with us, but she would think this was great”
On Sunday, Carlton and volunteers will be helping about 20 girls pick out dresses, shoes and jewelry, sending them home with everything they need to make prom night special.