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Dress swap packs punch

February 28, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

BOONSBORO -- A dress sale and swap Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Boonsboro dispelled the notion of a shrinking violet in a pretty dress.

Girls at the sale got a pretty prom dress with a lesson in self-defense on the side.

On one side of the room, the teens twirled in floor-length satin and chiffon, taking fashion advice from friends and family members. Just 15 feet away, their peers were practicing grabs and releases, shouting "Who-uh!" and taking each other down.

"Remember, once they're rendered not threatening, you are not allowed to keep beating them," self-defense instructor Mary Adams said.

Nine members of the Trinity Lutheran Church youth group are planning a summer trip to New Orleans for the Jesus, Justice and Jazz National Youth Gathering. The five females in the group planned the dress sale and swap as a fundraising event.

Laurin Smith, 16, of Boonsboro, came up with the idea.

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"I read about a dress swap in Seventeen magazine," Laurin said. "I thought it was a really good idea, so we decided to get a bunch of dresses together and run with it."

Laurin's mother, Kristy Smith, helped the girls gather more than 200 dresses, taking donations and shopping at thrift shops and on eBay.

It also occurred to Kristy that church member Mary Adams, whose 15-year-old son, David, plans to go on the New Orleans trip, is a second-degree black belt in classical tae kwon do. Kristy Smith asked Adams if she would conduct a self-defense workshop at the dress sale.

"This is a situation where a lot of girls are getting together," Adams said. "Many of them are at the age where they are getting ready to go to college. This is a good opportunity to reach them."

In addition to teaching safety skills for college, Adams said she demonstrated some basic techniques that could be used in "dating gone awry."

"These girls should be able to have confidence in defending themselves, and to know ahead of time that they don't deserve to be treated certain ways," she said.

Nikki Geraci, 16, of Boonsboro said she thought learning self-defense was fun.

"It's always possible that you could need it," she said. Plus, she found a light blue dress with a beaded top for $40.

"It's a lot nicer than the dress I bought last year, and last year, I spent over $100," Nikki said.

Katie Slifer, 15, of Rohrersville, said she called the self-defense demonstration "cool." She purchased a pink, halter-style, floor-length gown with flower-sequined detail on the bodice for just $10.

"There were a variety of dresses to choose from and I got one for a low price," Katie said.

Shoppers were charged a $5 fee at the door. Dresses were available in a variety of sizes, styles and colors, and many still had retail tags on them. Prices were $40 or less, with a number of dresses selling for $20, $10 or even $5.

About $400 was raised at the event.

Kristy Smith said the idea for a dress sale and swap did not come out of the current economic situation, but she said it made the sale even more viable.

"Someone can buy a dress for $20 rather than $200 at Macy's," she said.

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