Bank helps teens dress for magical prom

Hope Victoria Hubbard, 16, puts on her prom dress after finishing her makeup as she gets ready for prom at her sister's house last weekend. For the last three years, Gillette's ANB Bank has collected prom dresses to give to Gillette students. (Photo by Rhianna Gelhart, Gillette News Record)

By Patrick Filbin

Gillette News Record

Via Wyoming News Exchange

GILLETTE — On Saturday afternoon, just a few hours before her first prom, Hope Victoria Hubbard had no idea what she wanted to do with her makeup.

Makeup is her thing. At Campbell County High School, where Hope is a sophomore, the 16-year-old is the go-to makeup artist for all of the school’s theater productions.

Sprawled across the dining room table at her sister’s house Saturday, she had nearly a dozen kits of makeup with dozens of eyeliners and mascara to choose from.

Her mom, Mary Hubbard, was in the kitchen cutting up flowers to make a homemade corsage and boutonniere.

Two weeks before, Hope was making a much more important decision than choosing her eyeliner, sifting through racks of colorful dresses in the lobby of ANB Bank.

There were multiple racks of dresses organized mainly by style and color. There also was a table with jewelry.

Hope carried four dresses in her arms as she looked for more.

“I usually like short dresses,” Hope said, pushing clothes hangers to the left as her mom stood behind and watched which dresses her daughter liked.

When Hope picked out another short one, Mary looked away a bit and rolled her eyes with a smirk.

It was a classic mom-daughter moment. One had the power to make the decision, the other could only stand by and watch with a less than approving look.

No matter which dress Hope would eventually choose, the fact that she had so many to choose from was a gift in of itself.

In 2017, ANB Bank employee Cynthia Johnson was in the checkout line at the grocery store when she overheard two women talking about prom.

At the time, the local economy had recently been through extremely tough times and Johnson thought about how tough the end of the school year could be for some families.

There are graduation parties to throw, gifts to give and no school year ends without a great celebration at prom.

Prom can be especially stressful for girls. It’s a right of passage in a lot of ways. It’s a chance for high school teens to feel like a princess for a night and to have all the attention on them.

Any girl in high school and any woman who attended prom as a young girl will tell you that prom is nothing without the dress.

Three years ago, Johnson and ANB Bank started collecting donated dresses, shoes and jewelry and giving them to girls for prom.

Johnson has since left, but the rest of the crew at ANB Bank have picked up the slack and continue the tradition, which is in its third year.

Rachel Pherson, a branch manager with the bank, said they had more than 100 dresses this year. Some were leftover from previous years, but dozens more were newly donated.

For the last three years, Bear’s Dry Cleaning has been a partner with ANB Bank and cleans the dresses at no cost.

Lexi Peden, 17, found a dress at the giveaway last year and was back again for another prom experience.

She said the first time she picked out a gown was a little intimidating.

After digging for a while, she found a winner. It was a flowing yellow-and-gold dress with sequins.

At the bank this year, Lexi pulled out her cellphone and showed a picture from her first prom. She was standing alone in her backyard with the yellow dress on. She smiled wide while showing off the dress, almost as wide as her smile was in the picture.

“I looked like Belle,” Lexi said, referring to the princess from Beauty and the Beast. “I really, truly looked like a princess. It was better than I could have imagined.”

The night was magical, she said. This year she was hoping to capture that same magic. She picked out a similar dress, instead choosing blue over yellow.

This year she’ll also be going to prom with her first boyfriend.

“I’m just looking forward to having fun,” Lexi said. “And dancing.”

After trying on a half dozen dresses at the bank, most of which were too large for her, Hope spotted one that a lot of other girls had an interest in but no one had yet claimed.

It was a white strapless dress with colorful buttons on top. It was fun, funky and unique.

Just like her daughter, Hubbard said.

“She’s going to stand out,” Hubbard said. “The dress fits her personality.”

Even when Hope was little, Hubbard said that she would always pick out her own clothes, wouldn’t dress like other girls at school and would express herself through her own sense of fashion.

Hope said she would wear a skirt with leggings, a flannel shirt and purple leather Converse sneakers to school.

“She’s unique,” Hubbard said. “She’s always been ever since she was a little girl.”

Hope’s prom dress proves that.

Hubbard watched several YouTube videos on how to make a corsage. She was reviewing some of those videos as Hope did her makeup. Then she went and fetched Hope’s shoes, which they also found at ANB Bank.

“She’s already got heels just like these,” Hubbard said, showing off the dangerously high silvery-sparkled heels.

“I don’t have ones like those!” Hope said before explaining the ones she has are pink with skulls on them. “These shoes match my dress perfectly.”

Hubbard gave her youngest daughter another smirk and eye roll.

At a quarter to 2 p.m., Hope was done with her makeup. It was dress time. She went upstairs to change.

Hubbard, alone now in the dining room, got emotional thinking of her daughter already 16 and going to her first prom.

“She’s grown up pretty fast,” she said, wiping away tears. “She’s my little girl.”

A few minutes later Hope came down and showed off the winner. The buttons on the front were colorful and lively. Her sister Elissa had sewed a bright blue strap on the dress that gave it an extra flair.

Hubbard looked at her daughter from top to bottom, taking it all in.

“You look like you’re going to start crying,” Hope said, teasing her mom. “You better not.”

Hubbard waved her off, wiping away a final tear.

No matter the circumstances, prom seems to be a special time of the year for everyone.