MARIETTA, Ga. - When a few girls at Sprayberry High School started opening up about why they aren't going to Homecoming on September 9, their cheerleader friends were surprised.
"They said they just couldn't afford it," said Junior Nalah Tann-Wilson. That's why Nalah rallied a few cheerleaders to help girls whose parents can't afford a new dress for every occasion.
"I saw that most schools in Cobb County, 40% of their population is on reduced lunch and I thought, well, if you can't afford lunch every day, how can you afford a dress a for one night? So I knew we had to do something to help," Tann-Wilson added.
Other cheerleaders admit, they were surprised to hear the cost of a dress, among other expenses, was enough to keep girls from going to the big dance.
"I didn't know that some people can't afford dresses and when I found out that made me kind of sad so I'm just trying to help as much as I can," said 15-year-old cheerleader Sophie Lefebvre.
A few weeks ago, Nalah took to Facebook to announce she wanted collect dresses to stock a new "dress closet" at Sprayberry High. School leaders signed off on the idea and are hustling to create a storage area where girls in need can discreetly sort through a beautiful selection of free, new or gently used dresses and gowns.
Cheerleaders donated and gathered 30 during their first dress drive in July. The next one is in early August.
"My goal is 100 for the first dress drive. I'm doing one for homecoming and prom so for prom, too, so I hope to have a lot more in lots of different styles and sizes," Nalah told Fox5's Portia Bruner.
Sprayberry Coach Lane Floyd is cheering the girls' efforts to solve a costly problem with such a simple solution.
"They're thinking about the bigger picture. It's not just about them. They want to help our community and other individuals. It says a lot about them and we're all very proud of them for doing this," said Floyd, who teaches math in addition to his duties as a cheerleading coach.
The cheerleaders created the "Dress Closet Club" to garner more volunteers who will donate and help sort and organize the donated dresses.
"I think that girls will be excited to have a dress that they can wear for a great night and won't have to worry about 'Oh my parents my parents can't get this' and that way they can just enjoy their night," said Alexandria Gibbs.
The cheerleaders will host their first "Dress Closet Club" dress drive of the school year at Sprayberry High School in Marietta on Saturday, August 12. New or gently-used dresses must be ready to wear at the time of donation.