UNSUNG HERO: Mt. Vernon teacher gives away formal gowns to stude - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

UNSUNG HERO: Mt. Vernon teacher gives away formal gowns to students in need

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SCHELLER -- In this week's Unsung Hero, a Jefferson County teacher is making dreams come true by giving teenage girls a night to remember.

More than five years ago, Tiffany Delaney started collecting formal gowns for underprivileged student's who can't afford to buy a dress. Whether it's prom or homecoming, for the girls, the night is all about the dress.

"It's something that they will never forget. It's a memory that they will always cherish," said Mt. Vernon resident Trena Morton.   

 Trena says there's one woman in Jefferson County making sure the girls get to the dance in style.

"I say I'm a teacher by day, seamstress by night," said Tiffany Delaney.

Tiffany is a teacher at Bethel Grade School in Mt. Vernon.

Tiffany collects formal gowns to give-out to young women who can't afford it.

"These girls come in and they're like, we don't have running water at home, but I really want to go to this dance," said Tiffany.   

She's turned her home in Scheller into a dress shop with more than 800 gowns, ranging from size 4T in flower girl dresses, to sizes 0 to 26.

"I thought of my kids at school, and I knew that some of them don't have the money to buy their shoes or school supplies and I thought, 'this is ridiculous.'"   

Each girl meets with Tiffany for about an hour, picks out the dress they want, and Tiffany makes any necessary alterations.     

"When they put them on and they come out and they're like, 'I love this dress. I feel so beautiful. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't be able to go to these dances.' That's when you realize you're doing the right thing," said Tiffany.   

Tiffany has also started collecting wedding gowns for brides to be, shoes, and accessories.

"She's just wonderful! She does everything to fit the needs of other people," added Trena.   

Trena said Tiffany is more than an educator, calling her thoughtful and inspiring.

"She also is making young ladies feel more confident about themselves," said Trena.   

Even though the dresses are free, Tiffany has one rule for the girls.

"They can either bring it back to me, or pass it on, or keep it themselves, but please don't sell the dress because you didn't buy the dress. It was donated to me to donate out to girls,"    

Just since July, Tiffany said she's helped over 100 girls from Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana.

Tiffany has posted all of her dresses on her Facebook page. You can also email her at tippianns@yahoo.com. 

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