WIESBADEN, Germany -- Operation Deploy the Prom provided Wiesbaden High School students with a chance to receive free formal attire May 16 at the Club Beyond Youth Chapel on U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Hainerberg.
The program is in partnership with Operation Deploy Your Dress, a dress swap organization created in 2015 as a way to defray the costs associated with purchasing formal wear for holiday balls and now has collection shops on seven military installations.
“My wife and I wanted to bring what we learned from our experience volunteering with Operation Deploy Your Dress to the European theater once we got here,” said Sgt. Robert Cooper, a crypto linguist with the 24th Military Intelligence Battalion. “With the traditional prom setting being cancelled for students and a lot of shops being closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, we knew we could help these kid’s morale by putting this program together.”
Cooper and his wife, Sam Cooper, gave out ties to males and dresses to females from a plethora of selections supplied by Operation Deploy Your Dress on a first-come, first-serve basis while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines, wearing masks and requiring hand washing. Despite the challenges from COVID-19, the duo accomplished their mission and impacted the community.
“The reaction and enthusiasm we got from the schools and families have been wonderful,” said Robert Cooper. “This program is for the community, and if I can help these kids feel that they're still a part of something, I will know that Operation Deploy the Prom was a successful endeavor.”
The endeavor also attracted others who related to the cause of Operation Deploy the Prom on a personal level.
“I volunteered to help out with the cause of Operation Deploy the Prom when I found out the mission of what they were trying to do. I knew I had to be a part of it because I had also missed out,” said Pfc. Dillan Touchet, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment. “I never had my own prom because it was too expensive. So I understand how it feels to miss out on the everlasting moments prom brings.”
“It's more than just giving away formal wear, it really is to help keep traditions alive and build camaraderie,” said Yvonne Coombs, the chief executive officer of Operation Deploy Your Dress. “Whether that morale boost is at a military ball or a high school prom, these programs have proven to be impactful, and we are looking forward to our expansion to overseas military installations.”