Be Cinderella for a day and try on as many dresses as you would like.
Let Belle of the Ball program manager Holly Kelley be your personal shopper and handing you dress after dress, until you find the perfect one; or maybe the perfect two.
Kelley understands that you just might want to take home your favorite two, to hold your personal modeling session for your own prince charming and make your final decision in the pleasure of his company.
You may have seen Belle of the Ball flyers around Hill Air Force Base as you travel about; but when Kelley moved here in August of 2009 with her husband, Staff Sgt. Jason Kelley of the 729th Air Control Squadron (ACS) she had quite a concern: how to look beautiful by his side at his graduation ceremony from Airmen Leadership School (ALS), but do it on a budget. She sought out the program coordinator and began her search for the perfect dress.
The Belle of the Ball is a special occasion dress loan program, currently with about 400 dresses, made available to any military member, spouse or family member with Hill Air Force Base access and the proper identification.
Dresses are loaned out at no charge to the borrower with the understanding that if the dress is soiled or damaged the borrower will repair and clean it prior to its return.
"We would like to continue to grow this program and receive more dress and accessory donations of all shapes and sizes so there is more availability of dresses at Hill," Kelley said, "therefore allowing us to share the Belle of the Ball dress loan program with other bases and give other military families the same amazing opportunity."
Anyone interested in borrowing a dress for themselves or a dependent simply needs to call the program manager, Kelley at 850-543-7702, to set up their princess for a day appointment. Evening appointments are preferable so she can spend time with each person, viewing the dresses, fitting them, selecting and accessorizing.
Once the selection is made a simple form is completed containing contact information and the description of the items loaned.
Dresses can be reserved two to three weeks in advance to put a gal's mind at ease that the mission has been accomplished. There is no expense and the dress reservation ticket can be taken to Country Cleaners in Layton to receive a reduced price on dry cleaning at $2 for each piece.
Kelley continued to explain that some funding is provided through Utah Military Family Foundation (UMFF), but monetary donations are always welcomed.
"We really appreciate all donations," Kelley said. "Donations are used for dry cleaning, mending of donated items and small purchases such as hangers and safety pins."
All donations may be left at the A&FRC front desk and marked for Belle of the Ball.
"We receive dress and shoe donations regularly from the Thrift Shop as well as from several 388th FALCON/Honorary Commander Members and from spouses and civilians of Hill AFB," Kelley said. "We've had some nice shoes and handbags donated that were in great condition."
The program also needs children's formal wear for when military families have promotion or awards ceremonies or even family events and weddings, everyone needs to be outfitted
"We need formal-wear in all shapes and sizes, kids through adult," Kelley said.
Among other items on Kelley's wish list for the Belle of the Ball program, include some children's and young adult formals, crinoline petticoats of all sizes, as well as ccessories such as scarves, clutches, all kinds of beautiful shoes. Bracelets and necklaces would also be appreciated to give a gorgeous gown its final touch.
Although the Belle of the Ball Program has changed locations a few times over the years, in November 2011, two very important Belles of Hill AFB saw the value the program provided to military women and spouses and secured its location in the Airmen's & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC)/Airman's Attic.
Col. Kathryn Kolbe, 75th Air Base Wing (ABW) Vice Commander and Staci Long, 388th Fighter Wing Commander's spouse created a lovely place with fitting rooms and space to allow the dresses to be beautifully displayed and arranged by size, color and formal and semi-formal.
"We also have a few wedding dresses, a couple of tuxes and even a couple extra pair of blues," Kelley said.
In addition, teens can find beautiful homecoming and prom dresses.
Kelley does a little light sewing to keep the dresses looking fabulous and is always looking for new additions to the program. One of the most surprisingly helpful donations received was a large box of safety pins.
Program participants are kindly asked to refrain from cutting or sewing the dresses, but the temporary alteration a safety pin can provide brings a whole new world of possibilities to the array of beautiful gowns.
In addition to the Belle of the Ball program, Kelley is a Key Spouse in the 729 ACS, and has a small crafting business in her home where she makes hair bows, head pieces, head bands, tutus, veils and other custom-made items.
Working with Kelley, Paige Pierce, a former Honorary Commander of the 388 FW has taken on the Belle of the Ball as a special project.
Pierce has donated several dresses, some clothing racks and is constantly looking for more maternity dresses and formal wear to bring into the program.
The Belle of the Ball Program began in the spring of 2007, when the dress loan program was conceived and began by Myong Czop, spouse of the 388 FW Command Chief at the time. The program had a very humble beginning one rack in the Loan Locker at the A&FRC. Anne Beletic, spouse of the 388 FW Commander, donated the first dresses to the program. The former director of the A&FRC, Carole Beasley, came up with the name and continued to find a place to house the program as it grew.
Julie Mills, Maggie Corpe, Tami Snell, Heather Higby, Kay Zobrist and Angie Reth are only some of the many women who have supported the program since its inception.