More than 50 dresses donated to Fort Cavazos ODYD

By Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsApril 18, 2024

Eight women standing pose for a photo.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Military spouses model some of the dresses donated by local Navy Federal Credit Union staff at the Fort Cavazos Operation Deploy Your Dress headquarters. Accessories were also donated including shoes, jewelry and purses. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Emily Kibler, Navy Federal Credit Union) VIEW ORIGINAL
Five woman pose for a photo, each one holding a formal gown.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Members of the Navy Federal team pose with the formal gowns they donated to the Fort Cavazos Operation Deploy Your Dress nonprofit. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Emily Kibler, Navy Federal Credit Union) VIEW ORIGINAL

Local Navy Federal Credit Union staff from branches in the area collectively donated 52 formal gowns, as well as accessories including shoes and jewelry, to the Fort Cavazos Operation Deploy Your Dress.

Kelly Carpenter, assistant branch manager at the Fox Creek Navy Federal location in Killeen, said both locations in Killeen, along with the Copperas Cove and Harker Heights branches, worked together to accumulate the donations. She shared they hadn’t donated to ODYD before, but as a former Soldier and military spouse she knew the importance of ensuring ODYD was stocked up on formal wear.

“I have been the service member having the unexpected financial expenses of having to have my dress uniform quickly put together — that can be very expensive,” Carpenter said. “I’ve also had it where it was ball season for me, and then, all of a sudden, it was ball season for my military spouse at the time, so we had two back-to-back. The cost of getting my dress uniform, the cost of getting the dress uniform where it needed to be and, when I was attending his, being able to wear my own civilian formal wear … that was very expensive.

“In the Killeen market, we’re veterans. We’re military spouses ourselves. Some of us still serve, and so, for us, this was a very exciting opportunity that hit very close to home,” she added. “It perfectly aligns with our culture at Navy Federal — giving back to our local community and making an impact.”

Niki Strong, president of the Fort Cavazos ODYD, said the organization is a 100% volunteer- and donation-based nonprofit so donations of any kind, including the one from Navy Federal, is essential to the work the organization does.

“Any donation received is great, but when you get that bulk donation, especially around ball season, it’s amazing,” she said. “We’re pushing out 100 plus dresses every month so having to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to find that perfect dress is important and we need these donations coming in.

“When they’re in bulk like that it’s kind of a little bit of stress relief for us because we know there’s options for people,” she added. “The cost of attending a military ball can be a lot on families. The dresses, preparing the uniforms, getting the babysitter, buying the ball tickets — it can be a lot. If we can alleviate some of that cost, that’s our goal.”

Strong said the organization not only helps women find formal gowns, but they also have suits for men. Those who do get a dress with ODYD also receive an accessory.

“Operation Deploy Your Dress is a really magical place,” Strong said. “People come in and, especially if they’ve never attended a ball, they’re already nervous about going. They don’t know the formalities; they don’t know the protocols. I feel like a lot of our volunteers are really good at making people feel excited about it, and that’s what we want. We want people to be excited and feel confident that they’re able to go to this event and keep this military tradition alive.”

Carpenter said she was proud of the impact the four branches were able to achieve together.

“We hustled. We worked really, really hard. We talked about it everyday,” she said. “There was so much excitement. There was so much momentum all four of our branches working together trying to see who could (accumulate) the most. Our goal was to have a dress to represent every one of our team members, and we hit that goal. We’re personally proud that we can contribute and show up for the Fort Cavazos Spouses’ Club and for our Fort Cavazos market in such a way.”

Strong expressed her gratitude to Carpenter and the other Navy Federal staff members who contributed saying that community support is crucial.

“We would not be open and operating and able to give back like this without community support,” she said. “It’s the only way we can run, really. It means everything to us when we receive these donations.”

For more information on the Fort Cavazos ODYD, visit