Lima Kiwanis Program Makes Prom Affordable

LIMA — For years, teens looking for an affordable prom dress have turned to Diva’s Den.

The Formal Dress Giveaway was founded by the Lima Kiwanis Club, which collects new and gently used formal dresses to ease the financial burden of families whose teenage daughters wish to attend prom, homecomings and other formal events.

The premise is simple: a single prom dress can cost hundreds of dollars, but a Diva’s Den dress is free.

“One of the first years we did (the Diva’s Den), a mother, a grandmother and a daughter came. The girl put on the dress – she was gorgeous. And then the mother cried because there was no way she could buy the dress for her,” said Candace Newland, volunteer and board member of the Lima Kiwanis Club.

Held annually at the Masonic Center in Lima, the annual tradition remains one of the most popular events sponsored by Kiwanis.

Dresses are donated by women and department stores with excess inventory. Used dresses are cleaned to look like new, while new dresses can be worth up to $800 retail.

There’s no requirement to return a dress to Diva’s Den, but many girls still bring their dresses back the following year, Newland said. Others save their dresses for years before recycling them.

The Kiwanis club donated 154 dresses to its Diva’s Den this year, Newland said.

The grassroots clothing distribution is one of many projects sponsored by the Lima Kiwanis Club to support local youth.

The Lima Chapter was founded in 1920, joining 156 Kiwanis clubs in a mission to serve children.

The club provided start-up funds for a student filmmaker boot camp in Lima and donates free saplings to every freshman in Allen County each year.

The club held fundraisers to build the Allen County Museum’s one-room schoolhouse and playgrounds for all at Camp Robin Rogers and the big day at Marimor School, so children with physical and intellectual disabilities are not separated from their peers during recess. .

Each year, local Kiwanians honor Allen County’s top music students and award a four-year scholarship to a high school musician, allowing local musicians to pursue musical careers. And they regularly interact with local youth through service leadership programs at Allen County schools.

“We want to instill in them the value of volunteerism, the value of helping people other than your family and friends, giving them a broader view of what it’s like in the world,” Newland said.

Soleil Coats, then 14, sifts through a rack of prom dresses during a Diva’s Den event at the Masonic Temple in Lima in 2017. Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Lima, the annual event allows girls to buy prom dresses free of charge.

Lima Kiwanis Club’s popular ceremonial robe giveaway is one of many projects supporting young people in Allen County

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