'Love That Dress' helps PACE Center

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.

Ladies, grab your shopping bags and purses, put on some comfortable shoes and get ready for the best deals you may ever see. And it’s even better than you think because all of the proceeds go to a worthy cause.

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Donated dresses, such as this yellow Betsey Johnson, $20, will be sold at the second annual Love That Dress fundraiser. The fundraiser, which will be at the Senior Rec Center on Sept. 8, raises money for the PACE Center for Girls, an early intervention program that offers tutoring, counseling and advocacy to 12- to 17-year-old girls.

Elizabeth Hamilton/Correspondent


If you go

What: Love That Dress, a fundraiser to benefit PACE Center for Girls of Alachua
When: From 3 to 9 p.m. for VIP ticket holders, or from 5 to 9 p.m. general admission, Sept. 8
Where: Senior Recreation Center, 5701 NW 34th Street
Tickets: $100 per person for VIP ticket, includes early entry, separate dressing rooms and free drinks and appetizers. General admission tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Available at lovethatdressalachua.org or at PACE Center, 1010 SE Fourth Ave.
To donate: Donations of new or gently-used women's clothing, purses, accessories or new shoes are still being accepted. Drop off is from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the PACE Center, 1010 SE Fourth Ave.

The second annual Love That Dress event is coming Sept. 8 to the city’s Senior Recreation Center.

Gently-used women’s clothing, new shoes, purses, jewelry and other accessories will be sold for between $1 and $40 to raise money for the PACE Center for Girls of Alachua, which is a school for 12- to 17-year-old girls who have had difficulties with school, family and health issues.

Most items will be less than $40, but some brand-name items will be more expensive, said Kathy Wood, PACE’s development coordinator.

Clothing sizes range from 0 to 28, and items include formal dresses, wedding gowns, Gator gear, jeans and girls’ clothing.

Among the name-brand items at the sale are Kenneth Cole shoes, Lilly Pulitzer dresses, Vera Bradley purses and a Tracy Negoshian dress.

“The women who have donated are as diverse as the women who will shop,” said Val Solomon, PACE social services program assistant.

The event really honors the female spirit, said Kathie Southwick, PACE executive director.

“My favorite thing at last year’s event was when a woman came up to me at the end of the night with bags of clothes and said she got stuff she wouldn’t have been able to afford at stores,” Solomon said. “That really encapsulates the whole event.”

PACE is still accepting donations of items, which can be dropped off at the PACE Center.

Shoppers who want to get first pick at the inventory can buy a VIP ticket for $100 and shop from 3 to 9 p.m. The general admission ticket is $20 at the door and allows for shopping from 5 to 9 p.m.

Love That Dress is one of the three or four fundraisers that PACE organizes each year.

Event proceeds cover the cost of field trips — such as to Tallahassee and Universal Studios — for the girls, and support the center’s general operations, Southwick said.

Patricia, a 17-year-old student at PACE, said the biggest thing PACE has done for her is to get her teeth fixed. A local dentist donated about $25,000 worth of work to her.

She said she never used to smile or talk, but now, she can’t stop smiling.

“When I got my teeth fixed, it made me feel like someone really loved me and cared about me,” Patricia said with a wide smile.

Another thing Patricia said she loves about PACE is the bond she has with her teachers that she didn’t have at her public high school.

PACE has small classes and focuses on enhancing life skills, not just academic ones, for all of the girls, said John LaIacona, a PACE teacher.

“(Many) of the girls have had a lot of things happen in their lives that adults would have a hard time dealing with,” Southwick said. “We are trying to catch them before they fall through the cracks.”

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