‘They need the good memories’: Prom dress donations pour in for Maui students

Prom is a major milestone for high school students. Support has poured in to give students a memorable night after deadly wildfires on Maui.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 1:56 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 2:19 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Junior and senior prom are milestones for kids in high school. And for students in Lahaina who lost everything, a formal dress, suits and slacks are the last things parents are worried about as they focus on finding a new home.

In just a few weeks, those students will be able to shop like royalty — all for free.

Nine duffle bags full of prom dresses in every color are being sorted inside a former shoe store on Maui.

Lahaina resident Laura Stanton hauled them all from Seattle after seeing an online post calling for donations. Right before she left Maui for a trip to her former home state, she made her own call out to friends and family.

“If you have something, get in touch with me, and I’ll come and get it, and then I had three of my friends who you know, the old saying, ‘and they told two friends and they told two friends,’” Stanton said.

Friends of friends collected 150 dresses, and then 250 surprises from a jewelry company.


“And she said she wanted to donate brand new jewelry to the girls and I just was thrilled,” Stanton said.

Stanton said she was ready to pick up the tab for all the bag fees. But Hawaiian Airlines waived it.

“I had so many people along the way that just sort of little angels that helped help me carry everything because I was traveling by myself,” Stanton said.

Prom season is a livelihood for Terri Ewbank at Elly’s Formal Wear. And even though she’s offering up dresses on a large scale has always been a dream, she’s secretly sponsored students for more than a decade.

“Giving these students that feeling of just the confidence of just setting apart, you know, like if they’re in school, and they get bullied or teased from the clothes that they wear every single day, or they can’t afford new shoes, or new backpacks or iPhones, it’s just being in our store, all of that is set apart,” Ewbank said.

The massive response will now give all Maui students the opportunity to get something for prom this year.

“They need those memories, not the bad memories. They need the good memories,” Stanton said. “And if a little bit of good can come out of this, it’s worth everyone’s effort. And yeah, I think I think they deserve that.”

Ewbank said the prom donation drive will touch so many lives.

“I think this whole natural disaster the Lahaina fires and the wildfires has really made our community come together and is really made my family come together and I’m so grateful for the togetherness that it’s brought and the relationships that it’s built with my family and I’m and I’m just looking forward to what’s ahead, what God has in store for all of us,” she said.