The third annual Fashion for Compassion event inside the Emma Kelly Theater at the Averitt Center for the Arts takes place at 6 p.m. Friday. This has become the January First Friday event in recent years.
Downtown boutiques and consignment shops will host the event, which will benefit Fostering Bulloch's Georgia's Princess Ball. There is no charge for the event, but donations are encouraged.
The fashion show will feature modern, everyday wear for all ages and prom dress previews provided by downtown businesses, which also will provide samples and coupons. Local artists, including Pladd Dot Music's School of Rock, will perform onstage.
The first Georgia's Princess Ball is slated for May and is set to be a stellar weekend for young ladies ages 12 to 17 in high-risk situations or foster care.
The princesses begin their royal treatment with hair-styling appointments and makeup packages donated by downtown sponsors. Lunch will be provided, and then the girls will dress in gorgeous formal-wear gowns.
A limousine will whisk the young ladies to the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center at Georgia Southern University, where volunteers will lead the girls down a red-carpet runway to the ball, consisting of a five-course meal and dance.
It's a dream come true for these special young ladies, an event that won't soon be forgotten.
"This may be the only ball some of these young ladies will go to. This may be their prom," said Maria Proctor, owner of Madame Couture's Consignment Boutique at 5 N. Main St.
Proctor was quick to join the team to provide the ball.
"With my store being located between Juvenile Justice and Department of Corrections, and I see the community service ladies - I look at the faces," she said. "Sometimes, children without guidance get in trouble. But that doesn't mean you're not special.
"I've known kids that go from foster home to foster home with just one garbage bag of belongings," Proctor continued. "I want this event to let these young ladies know, 'You're not thrown away. You've loved. Somebody cares about you. Yes, you may be in foster care. But you're special, one of God's children.' "
Proctor paused, then added, "This might be the one thing that could turn their lives around."
The idea for the Princess Ball came about when a couple new to the area, Jason and Robbie Robichau, met Chris Yaughn, the Fostering Bulloch director, shortly after moving to Statesboro from Phoenix.
Jason, a self-employed artist, and Robbie, an assistant professor of public administration at Georgia Southern, volunteered with a nonprofit organization in Phoenix that sponsored a camp with a Princess Program on the first day of the camp.
The couple met Yaughn at a festival downtown just a week after moving here and then again soon after and shared their idea.
"Chris set up a meeting for those that might be interested," Jason Robichau explained. "I'd asked my wife how many dresses she thought we needed for such an event, and she said about 300. I said to her, 'How are we going to get 300 dresses?' But the next day, Chris called and said he'd found dresses."
Robichau said he and his wife volunteered with the project in Phoenix for six years and said it was hard work.
Speaking of the Statesboro event, Robichau said: "Every step of the way, things have worked out. It's been amazing. It's definitely God, all along the way. In a small town, everybody knows everybody. They know who to call. It's been so amazing to see how quickly and easily it's come together."
Sponsors and supporters of the event include Clayton Digital Reprographics; Averitt Center for the Arts; Bellies, Babies and Ballerinas; Children's Cottage Consignments; Too Cute Kidz; B'Dazzled; Cobbler's Bench; Madame Couture's Boutique; The Fringe; Everything Curvee Boutique; Southern Glamour; 67 Styles; Browbaby; Salon Cheveux and Spa; Merle Norman; Bare Escentuals Hair Studio; The Flowergirl; Frazier's Flowers; MKW Media; Simply Sweet Cakery; and Hodges Corporation with KFC and Jimmy John's.