The belles of the OCC ball

Local nonprofits are looking for prom dresses to give at-risk teens the high school dance experience they could never afford.

Women Helping Women has partnered with Girls Inc. of Orange County and the Orangewood Children's Foundation for the fifth annual Belle of the Ball on March 24 at Orange Coast College.

The all-day event in Costa Mesa aims to empower at-risk teens with speakers, workshops, and an evening dress and accessories to wear to their high school prom.

"Belle of the Ball is an extremely memorable day for the students," said Brateil Aghasi, associate director of Women Helping Women. "It's a day when they are empowered, educated and, for most girls, it's the very first time in their lives where they have ever tried on a formal dress. So it is a very special day."

The event coincides with Women's History Month, and is right in time for prom season, Aghasi said.

The organizations are looking for donations of new or gently used formal dresses, dress shoes, evening purses and jewelry before March 9.

"Without Belle of the Ball, these teens would probably not be able to go to prom due to all the expenses, which can cost well over $750," Aghasi said.

The event will feature workshops on positive body image, drumming to de-stress and a professional consultation on skin care and makeup application.

The workshops are created to empower, educate and encourage the women to make positive choices by building up their self-esteem, Aghasi said.

More than 400 17- to 18-year-olds from around the county have signed up for the event. The event has served more than 800 people since its inception in 2008.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

Women Helping Women Client Services, Donation Center and Administrative Offices, 1800 E. McFadden Ave., Suite 1A, Santa Ana. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For information, call (949) 631-2333.

Women Helping Women Donation Center and Déjà New, 711 W. 17th St., Suite A10, Costa Mesa. The location is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For more information call (949) 631-1287.

First Bank, 25461 Rancho Niguel Road, Laguna Niguel. Hours of operation 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. For questions call (949) 448-5180.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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