Vandalia woman gives formal dresses a second life

Second Dance provides free formal dresses to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them

Angela Cupp remembers one high school girl who visited the Second Dance boutique who just couldn’t find the right dress for an upcoming dance.

But Cupp, who founded the Vandalia ministry that provides free formal dresses to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them, remembered a particular dress that she thought might work. The girl was unsure, but Cupp urged her to try it on.

From the dressing room, she heard the girl squeal that she had found her dress.

“I stood there and thought, this is why I do this,” Cupp said.

Cupp, 56, began Second Dance a little more than a year ago, collecting donated dresses and setting up in a room at Vandalia United Methodist Church. She had gone dress shopping with her niece and saw the expensive price tags. What did the girls who couldn’t afford them do?

“I thought, there’s got to be a better way. No girl shouldn’t go to a dance because they can’t afford a dress,” she said.

That first fall, she hoped to have 30 dresses and help 5 girls. Instead she amassed 100 dresses within 10 days. Now she has more than 600 dresses and estimates that 150 have been given out for homecoming, prom and other formal dances.

Its popularity has grown, Cupp said, and Second Dance is expanding to include a bridal boutique as well.

Mike Snyder, Cupp’s significant other, says the boutique is just one way that Cupp helps others, but it is one that she takes pride in.

“It brings joy to her when she sees a young lady take a dress out with her,” he said.

Snyder called Cupp a caring, good-hearted person who takes her ministry to heart. She has helped to fill a need that was even greater than she realized.

“She started it out from ground zero not knowing what to expect,” he said.

Cupp gets help from Snyder, her family and others, but she largely runs Second Dance on her own. During the busy prom season, she was at the boutique nearly every weekday night and often on weekends to meet girls for their appointments.

Requests for appointments can be made on Second Dance’s Facebook page or on the ministry’s page through the church’s website. The organization also offers a selection of shoes and purses, and Cupp urges those who are trying to find a new home for their formalwear to consider Second Dance.

When Cupp first wanted to start Second Dance, she knew that space was going to be a challenge. The pastor of Vandalia United Methodist Church was supportive, and the concept got “really big, really fast,” she said.

Some of the girls who choose dresses keep them, and others return them to be used by another. Cupp also has developed partnerships to have the dresses cleaned and altered when needed.

“I love to think it has taken the entire community to make it the success it has been,” she said.

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