CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some who attend the high school prom in 2013 will wear gowns that once belonged to West Virginia's first lady.
Joanne Jaeger Tomblin on Wednesday afternoon donated formal gowns to Ronda's Closet, where girls preparing for the prom may choose dresses at no cost.
She said the prom gown giveaway is a good project, and she hopes others will follow suit by donating dresses to a place where girls may shop for free.
"I remember shopping for my prom dress," she said. "It's a big deal."
Tomblin donated two taffeta floor-length gowns with jackets in the colors of eggplant and wine. She also donated two basic black cocktail dresses that may be worn by chaperones.
She doesn't recall exactly where she wore the clothing but believes it must have been some legislative events. While she can't remember the details, she believes they were all purchased locally and she wore them more than once.
While details of these dresses remain sketchy, she remembers her high school prom well.
"It was the event everyone waited for," she said. "You knew you were graduating from high school, and it was the last big event before going different ways. I wore a long, floor-length yellow dress. We had the Brooklyn Bridge as the band in a big country club on Long Island. We had a great time. "
While many clothing styles come and go, gowns are fairly timeless, she said. However, gowns often hang in closets when they could be put to good use.
The first lady asked her executive assistant, Susan Fox, and Tina Amburgey, public information specialist, for ideas about what to do with gowns.
After some discussion, they decided Ronda's Closet would be a good choice. Tomblin plans to send more gowns there in the future and hopes others will make donations as well.
"You get more out of helping and giving than receiving," she said.
Ronda's Closet, housed at Aldersgate United Methodist Church near Sissonville, opened during the prom season of 2006 in memory of Ronda Jones Howard, who died of breast cancer in 2004 at age 44. Howard was a model and a special person, said friend Julia Black.