Last week, Hilton Head Island Realtor Maria Skrip said she expected to collect 20 to 30 gently used ball gowns for a program that donates dresses and other formal wear to local military wives.
She received considerably more.
About 400 gowns were dropped off this week at Skrip's offices in Beaufort, Bluffton and on Hilton Head as part of "Operation Fairy Gown Mother," a program she started this year to reduce costs for local military wives attending upcoming Marine Corps galas, held to commemorate the Corps' 237th birthday on Nov. 10.
"I really can't believe it," Skrip said Thursday with a chuckle. "We collected 50 in Beaufort, about 100 in Bluffton and more than that today. This community is amazing. We had no idea this would happen."
The donations included a box shipped overnight from Columbia to Skrip's Hilton Head office from a group of women that donated five dresses, three pairs of shoes and jewelry.
Skrip said the items will be given to Marine Corps Community Services, which will distribute them to Marine wives during that organization's annual Operation Ball Gown event Thursday at the Officers' Club at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The wife of a retired Marine, Skrip said she should never have underestimated the community's commitment to service members and their families.
"We have had amazing younger women and older women come by today whose families have multiple generations of military service," Skrip said. "I really can't say enough about how the community came through for these military wives."
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.