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‘She is an amazing lady,’ Woman collects, donates dresses to girls in need

PONTOTOC COUNTY - Just outside of Ada, down a few country roads, lives Monnie Smith.

"She is an amazing lady,” LeRhonda said. "She's been doing this for about three years. She's been collecting and having dresses donated for girls who are in high school, father daughter dances. She even has wedding dresses. She loans them out to them for free and doesn't second guess their situation or nothing. Just lets them borrow them."

No cost. Nothing in return. And the smile on the girls' faces? Priceless.

"She has it set up kind of like whenever you go to David's Bridal or to the bridal shop she'll set out like 10 or so dresses for the girls and let them try them on, and then they get to pick the one that they want,” LeRhonda said.

Thanks to help of First Fidelity Bank, LeRhonda Jessop, who nominated Monnie, was able to Pay It 4Ward to her.

"We would like to thank Monnie for all her efforts, and working with the girls to help give them dresses when they need it. So, it's prom season right around the corner, and we want to thank her for what she's done,” John Symcox of First Fidelity Bank said. "On behalf of First Fidelity Bank we would like to present Monnie with $400."

Monnie was beyond surprised.

"Just for girls who need help," she said when asked why she started doing it.

The girls come from all over the state for a need without geographic boundaries.

From backgrounds as colorful as the hundreds of gowns Monnie’s collected.

"They usually come in with a story. Which is sad,” she said. “Living with grandparents, no extra money. I've had girls whose moms were dying. I'm just a cry baby. I'm sorry."

They come with a story and trade it for something else.

"They leave here with a smile and a dress that they wouldn't have gotten,” Monnie said. "Lots of times they will say they wouldn't have gotten to go if I hadn't of got a dress free."

Monnie started Gowns of Grace with just a few dresses, and her daughters made a Facebook group for her. Through social media and word of mouth, she now sees girls year round.

And with the help others she is making countless girls feel like a princess.

"This little dress I almost threw in the dumpster when I went and bought it from someone. It had alcohol, chocolate, everything on the bottom and holes in it, but my mom fixed it,” she said. "It's been chosen twice by girls who wanted a big, poufy blue dress. They're getting to go to a dance, and they're getting to feel pretty, and some of them come in here thinking they're nothing, and they're not pretty, but they are. They'll put a dress on and look in the mirror and just have the biggest smile."

A fairy-tale ending, if only just for one night.

Click here for more information about Gowns of Grace.

Pay it 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.