Mar. 13—WILLMAR — Fifteen-year-old Bella Kill was looking for a fancy dress for her upcoming quinceañera when she and her mom, Patty, saw a store full of pretty dresses while walking through the Uptown Willmar mall Sunday afternoon in Willmar.
As Bella tried on a blue one, Patty found a pink one for her to try on next. And then there was a green one and another pink one.
She looked stunning in all of them.
The collection of new and gently used, one-of-a-kind dresses were all donated and priced well below the cost of a new prom or special occasion dress. Some dresses were priced at $5 and others were in the $50 to $100 price range. Some were a little higher.
The special pop-up sale, which was held last weekend continues this weekend — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 13, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 14 — is a fundraiser for AIM of West Central Minnesota.
AIM, which stands for Advocacy & Inclusion Matter, is a regional organization that provides services that "foster social inclusion, education, advocacy and resources" for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities" and their families, according to its mission statement.
There were about 265 dresses donated, said Valoris Anderson, executive director of AIM. Some of the dresses are brand new and have never been worn.
The mall donated the space in the former Christopher & Banks space and display racks and mannequins came from the closed JCPenney store, Anderson said.
"The mall's been really good to us," she said. "We've been blessed. They've been very generous to us."
It's looking right now as if prom could be held in area high schools this year, and hopefully AIM will be able to hold its annual spring dance.
But even if something changes and proms and dances aren't held this year, "at least they were able to purchase a dress at a reasonable price versus the more expensive ones," she said.
AIM, which originated in 1957 and is the umbrella organization for the self-advocacy group People First, has not been able to host many events for participants because of COVID. Anderson said she hopes that changes as the year progresses.
AIM is also midway into its annual rose sale with online ordering until April 2 at www.aimwcm.org. Curbside pickup of rose orders will take place May 20 by the former JCPenney entrance at the mall. Funds raised through the rose sale are also used to offset expenses for classes, programs and other events for participants, said Anderson.