Prom dress giveaway to benefit Oakland public school girls

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- Hundreds of teen girls who attend Oakland public schools will have the opportunity Saturday to attend a special prom dress giveaway event organized by Leslie West, the wife of Warriors player David West.

She is passionate about her mission to help girls in need which she does through her event called "Dressed by West." The event provides free prom dresses to the girls, an effort to make their once-in-a-lifetime high school prom even more special.

West's effort is supported by the Warriors basketball team, the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Public Education Fund, a non-profit group that supports schools. 

West said she started the program after she experienced a major disaster while living in New Orleans when it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Her husband was a player for the New Orleans Hornets at the time.

"Nobody could afford anything," she said about the aftermath of the natural disaster. "There were $200 to $300 (dresses) on a 90 percent off rack.  I ended up buying 800 dresses from Dillard's for $12 apiece.

"They called me the fairy godmother of the prom because they were cancelling them (and) nobody could afford to go," West said.

West brought over a thousand of the dresses with her when she and her family moved from Texas to California eight months ago when her husband joined the Warriors. She said she sees a need in the East Bay which may explain why hundreds of girls have signed up for Saturday's dress giveaway.

Friday night, she and her team were preparing for the annual giveaway to local high school girls.

"I think it's important for you to experience (the prom) and the dress is a big part of it," West said. 

A truck was used to haul the party attire to Oakland High School, where the Dressed by West Event will be held. The set-up is elaborate after the school gym is transformed into a boutique equipped with 20 fitting rooms for the girls to try on the dresses.

"It's a party," said Juliana Dang, an 18-year-old girl who has signed up to participate in the event. "It's when you can dress up and be able to show off yourself."

"I've wanted to go to the prom since ninth grade year," said Faith Ewere, an Oakland High senior who had a difficult time finding the money to buy a prom outfit. "I want to look fancy."

One girl was able to get her dress a day early because of a family emergency. 

"You got to get the best experience you can in high school because high school will be over soon," says Jazzmine Johnson, 16, who attends Ralph J. Bunche High School.

West asks the dress recipients to pass it on to someone else in need or donate it. Participants are asked to sign up online for the event, which will be held at Oakland High School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Students can register until 8 a.m. Saturday.

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By KTVU reporter Amber Lee.