Ministry thankful for dress donations

Sioux Center Operation Prom founder Kayla Van De Berg looks through the collection of prom dresses available. The two-day event set for Jan. 17-18 at First Reformed Church in Sioux Center offers helps low-income junior or senior girls a chance to attend their proms by providing free prom dresses.

UPDATE:  Because of the inclement weather, the Friday, Jan. 17, event has been canceled. If scheduled for Friday or worried about Saturday weather, girls may come after 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Jan. 16) same location. 

SIOUX CENTER—Sioux Center Operation Prom is just around the corner.

The two-day event set for Jan. 17-18 at First Reformed Church in Sioux Center helps low-income junior or senior girls a chance to attend their proms by providing free prom dresses.

Sioux Center’s version of this ministry began collecting dresses at the end of 2012 with its first “dress day” in January 2013.

Founder Kayla Van De Berg of Sioux Center is excited to see this ministry continue to blossom.

“This ministry was created in hope of helping young ladies attend their formal prom in a gorgeous new or gently used formal gown, donated by you,” Den Herder said. “It’s been a blessing to see the smiles on the girls’ faces each year.”

Sioux Center Operation Prom serves about 35 girls each year from 10 communities in N’West Iowa and South Dakota.

The event changed from a one-day to two-day event a few years ago to provide enough time to assist the girls in picking out a dress.

“We like to give each girl one-on-one attention as they try on dresses and they can try on as many as they like, so often that can take 45 minutes to an hour,” Van De Berg said.

Girls of various ethnicity and situations have utilized the service. Some have been homeless, others in foster care, still others have a family struggling financially or are going through a hard time and the cost of prom is a burden.

“We adopt these girls for the moment,” Van De Berg said. “We want to get to know them a bit, love on them, too, because often these girls don’t get that kind of attention. We also pray for them.”

While browsing, a snack is provided. Each girl may also choose a Bible or devotional to take home.

Each girl also is connected with Best Ministries of Sioux Center, which exists to “Bless, Encourage, Serve and Transform” the lives of others, to set up a nail and/or hair appointment before their prom date.

Volunteers often also check in once or twice with the student after their visit.

“It’s important to offer that extra touch,” Van De Berg said.

Sioux Center Operation Prom is based off the national nonprofit organization, all of which are made up of volunteers.

Van De Berg’s inspiration for starting a Sioux Center branch came more than seven years ago after hearing about Operation Prom advertised on Life 96.5, a Christian radio station based out of Sioux Falls, SD, during her drive to and from work in Boyden at the time.

“There was an annual event for our congregation but I felt interested in doing more outreach,” she said. “God placed the desire and interest in my heart. I wanted to serve outwardly. A lot of people think that means out of state or internationally, but I felt there could be a need locally. I feel honored we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, not just saying it but doing it.”

Note: The correct name, Kayla Van De Berg, has been updated for this online version of the story from the incorrect last name used in the printed version.