Sequins, Chiffon and Tulle, oh my! Racks of glittery ball gowns hang waiting for their new owners to select them at "Operation Deploy Your Dress" (ODYD) first gown giveaway, April 20, at the LCSC Schoolhouse on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM.
Dresses have been arriving from all over the country donated by owners eager to support military spouses in this very personal way. One person touched by the mission is Miss Idaho USA 2017, Cassie Lewis, who hosted an event March 25 to collect evening gowns. "We collected about twenty dresses on Saturday with more still on the way," she said.
"I am so excited to help with this event because it truly combines everything I'm passionate about." Lewis said, "I love fashion, I come from a military family, and I love having the opportunity to combine my experience and help women look and feel beautiful." She is a military brat who lived at JBLM as a child and is the daughter of retired 446th Airlift Wing airmen Capt. Tammy Lewis and veteran Rob Lewis.
Lewis' degree is in fashion merchandising and design from Central Washington University. Her beauty pageant experience and degree make her a skilled fashion consultant. Lewis is scheduled to make an appearance at the gown giveaway with her mother attending as well. "I love how clothes can transform how people feel about themselves. It's so true that if you feel good, you look good, and helping women become confident in themselves is what I love to do more than anything in the world," she said.
Two JBLM junior military spouses, Rachel Hinely and Megan Rusher, were invited to preview the collection. With the help of Andrea Preusker, ODYD representative, both ladies were able to find the perfect dress. "It is a huge help as we are enlisted spouses and dresses are very expensive. This is a nice way to treat yourself," said Hinely.
"Being young, having a starter job and a lot to pay for, this is very helpful," said Rusher. "It was a lot of fun and I can't wait for my first ball!"
Hinely is looking forward to her first ball as well. "We are newlyweds and recently started living together as I had to finish school," she said.
According to Preusker, at the kickoff event April 20, junior enlisted spouses E-1 to E-4 will have first choice of selection from 10 a.m. to noon, E-1 to E-6 from noon-2 p.m., and everyone else from 2-4 p.m. "While supplies last, the ladies can choose from shoes, bags and jewelry plus the dress," said Preusker. "You must present a current military identification card to verify military affiliation." Volunteers from the Lewis Community Spouses Club will be assisting with the event.