Giving Grace: This 8th-grader Knows How

Gracie Di Nardo collected more than 400 new and slightly worn dresses and 150 pairs of shoes so girls in her town could have a nice outfit for graduation. Last week, girls in the 5th, 8th, and 12th grades descended on the community center which allowed her to display the clothes. Most of the outfits had been tagged with handwritten notes such as “You are loved,” “You are strong,” and “You are beautiful.”

Gracie’s project started in May when she and her mother were talking about how fortunate Gracie was to have a new dress for a dance and one for graduation. She knew that many of her schoolmates were not so fortunate, and so she decided to do the dress drive so that other students could feel special on their graduation day. She called her project “Giving Grace.”

Gracie approached the director of a local middle school’s local services center and the family resource directors at two different elementary schools. The center directors spread the word, inviting girls to the shopping event and asking people to donate. Soon high schools were joining in. Social media posts helped bring in dresses. Gracie’s volleyball teammates also helped.

In addition to dresses and shoes, girls could also shop for accessories. One family donated some of their late mother’s jewelry collection. Next year, Gracie plans to enlarge her project to include prom dresses.