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Attending their high school prom is a dream of many girls, but for some it's simply too expensive.

That's the motivation behind "Belle of the Ball," the ninth annual prom dress event sponsored by Wayne County Commission Vice-Chair Alisha Bell (D-Detroit). The giveaway will run from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 9, at the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, 16500 Tireman, Detroit.

"Prom is always such a memorable experience, but it's also out of reach for some girls," Vice-Chair Bell said. "I want to help girls who otherwise couldn't afford to go to prom. This is a great way to help create such special memories for those girls, and they also experience the generosity of those around them."

Girls can choose free formal and semiformal dresses, shoes, purses and jewelry that were donated. Some items are new; some are gently used. Dresses are arranged by size.

Bell estimates that the previous "Belle of the Ball" events combined have given away more than 1,500 dresses, including more than 100 last year.

Volunteers and businesses have donated dresses and accessories. Sponsors include Unique Lady; Amour Bridal, Prom and Tuxedo; Burlington Coat Factory; Miss Betsy's Bridal; and Sears.

Items are arranged at the Boys & Girls Club the night before, and an hour before doors open, girls already are in line.

Vice-Chair Bell is grateful toward the Boys & Girls Club for offering the building to host "Belle of the Ball." In addition, board members and employees of The Salvation ArmyEastern Michigan Division have donated dresses, accessories and clothing racks.

Donations can be dropped off through April 2 at the Boys & Girls Club from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays or noon to 3 p.m. April 2, or Bell's office in Suite 739 of the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold, Detroit. Volunteers also are needed for before, during and after "Belle of the Ball."

Contact Bell's office at 313-224-0936 or for more information. She represents the Wayne County Commission's 7th District, which covers part of Detroit's far west side.