The Coast News Group

Women from the RSF Women’s Fund take part in the Armed Forces Ball Gown Giveaway

RANCHO SANTA FE — During the month of November, Camp Pendleton has a host of elegant Marine Corps Balls for their active service personnel and veterans. But for some, attending these black tie venues may not become a reality if they don’t have the funds to purchase formal eveningwear.

This year, the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund decided to embrace this cause and take part in the Ball Gown Giveaway sponsored by the Armed Services YMCA in Camp Pendleton.

“We were looking for nonprofit agendas and things we could help out with which did not involve a grant process,” said Susan Danton, member of the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund. “This is not a grant from the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s fund but we are doing this as part of our volunteer committee — we wanted to let our members know that we’ll collect the items and deliver them out to Camp Pendleton.”

No financial donation is involved.

On the list of things needed are evening gowns, tuxedos, handbags, shoes, and jewelry. Generally, those seeking evening garments are in their mid-twenties.

Danton wants people to know that it’s not just the members of her club that can help. The Rancho Santa Fe community can join together to help build their inventory for a spectacular delivery to Camp Pendleton. And they have a few months to reach this goal.

According to the Armed Services YMCA, Sept. 20 is the date slated for the actual Ball Gown Giveaway event.

Created in 2002, the event has grown substantially. Suzanne Tabrum, director of events and community relations of the Armed Services YMCA, said last year they served 600 ladies and gentlemen.

“We started this because it was compulsory for the marines and sailors to go to an annual ball, but their spouses weren’t attending because they couldn’t afford to buy a new dress,” Tabrum said. She continued, “We started the event to alleviate that so these young spouses could go to the ball.”

Last year, Tabrum said they received a donation of 2,800 dresses and 200 tuxedos and suits. The need for male suits and tuxedos has increased over the years.

Left over evening garments are donated to nearby military bases for their annual formals.

Tabrum describes the event as a successful one and they love doing it since it gives them an opportunity to give back to the military community. Likewise, it gives community volunteers another avenue to help.

“And I look forward to working with the ladies from the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund,” Tabrum said.

And Tabrum isn’t the only one. Danton cannot wait to see what the actual Ball Gown Giveaway day will be like.

“I have been told they bring men and women, 50 at a time, and they get 30 minutes to shop to select a dress or tuxedo to try on,” she said, adding how volunteer seamstresses are on hand to do the tailoring.

Over the years, the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund has helped the local military because it’s so prevalent in San Diego. “We have done grants which assist in the military and support services, to active duty, and veterans,” Danton said. “And the Ball Gown Giveaway just seemed like a wonderful extension of that.”

For those interested in donating gently used, dry cleaned gowns, tuxedos or suits, and evening accessories, please contact the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund to schedule a drop off time at (858) 756-6557 or email [email protected] .