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Soldiers collect formal dresses for girls in need

POSTED: October 23, 2009 10:48 a.m.
Photo by Lauren Hunsberger/

Soldiers from the 4/3 BSTB hold up some of the dresses they gave to Albritton during Tuesday's ceremony.

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As people who wear the same camouflage uniform day in and out, five days a week, you could assume soldiers don’t know much about dresses, particularly sequined ball gowns.
But, the 4/3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion proved they’re experts in some respects, especially collecting them.
The Fort Stewart soldiers, as part of their Adopt-a-School program started a ball gown collection about a month ago for girls at Bradwell Institute who might not be able to afford a dress for high school dances.
“I was originally thinking we might be able to get 30 or 40 dresses…now we have 101,” said Michele Lewis, spouse of Lt. Col. George Lewis. She spearheaded the drive.
“By being a military spouse and attending the balls, I know it can be expensive. So to be able to offset the cost for some girls, and give them that Cinderella feel, I just think we’ve got the most awesome soldiers on Fort Stewart,” she said.
She also extended gratitude to other residents who participated and helped spread the word about the drive.
“I love that so many people from the entire community contributed. This was not just a 4/3 BSTB donation, we had soldiers standing up at their churches telling everyone about this and shooting e-mails out and family members, moms, sending gowns from home. It was really just phenomenal,” Lewis said.
On Tuesday afternoon, a host of soldiers stood by the racks of dresses as they presented them to Bradwell Principal Dr. Vicki Albritton, who said she knows the gowns will be appreciated by her students.
She said in the past she’s known some students who were almost forced to forego special events because they weren’t able to afford dresses. While staff members at the school have helped, the donations ease a lot of stress for those involved.
“It may not seem like a big deal, but if you think back to your high school days you know it was a really big deal,” she said to the soldiers.
Surprisingly, the colonel said the involvement with the school offers an opportunity for specialized training before the soldiers deploy to Iraq.
“This is a great opportunity for our soldiers to really be citizen soldiers, to serve and give back to the community while at
the same time it trains us for the missions we’re going to do downrange in community engagement and working with local programs and schools. It’s really a win-win for us,” he said.
While the majority of the dresses were given to Albritton Tuesday, the Lewises said they will continue to accept dresses.
And, they are so pleased with the program’s success, they’re issuing a challenge:
 “There’s got to be someone out there that is willing to step up and do the same thing for Liberty County High School … I’d like to throw out a challenge for someone to do this for them too,” Michele Lewis said.
 

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