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Garments of Praise collecting used formal dresses for Domincan Republic

A professor leading a Maymester trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic is collecting prom dresses for an organization striving to empower women and help them out of prostitution in the Dominican Republic.

Amy Hodges Hamilton, a professor in the English department, is involved with the ministry Garments of Praise.

Garments of Praise rents donated dresses to women in the Dominican Republic and uses the money to help employ women, so they do not have to continue earning money through prostitution.

Hodges Hamilton is asking for Belmont students to donate old prom, formal or bridesmaid dresses, which she will bring to the organization during the Maymester.

“Dominicans love to dress up,” said Hodges Hamilton. “So for quinceaneras, for weddings, for parties, dressing up is a really fun and celebrated thing in the Dominican Republic.”

Garments of Praise is a part of the larger organization DR Vision, which reaches out to communities in the Dominican Republic to share the Gospel of Christ, according to the organization’s Facebook page.

DR Vision has other ministries to rescue women as well, including a safe house and MERCY jewelry, where women are employed making jewelry as a way to earn money.

“It’s really all about offering women a sort of chance to support themselves with dignity,” said Hodges Hamilton.

On the trip, she and the students will also get to visit the rescued women and run a vacation Bible school for some of the women’s children, she said. They will also help paint the new safe house.

Hodges Hamilton will also be teaching her students about human trafficking and sex tourism during the Maymester.

“There’s really no way out of poverty for women other than to prostitute themselves. Even when they do that, they’re still making very little money,” Hodges Hamilton said. “I mean, it’s not like ‘Pretty Woman.’”

Students can donate old prom, formal and bridesmaid dresses to Garments of Praise by bringing them to the Vision office on the first floor of the Johnson Center until the end of the semester.

This article was written by Emily Allen. Photo courtesy of Amy Hodges Hamilton.

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