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Teacher filling ‘Matthew’s Closet’ with more than 300 formal dresses

A teacher at Alexander Junior High is filling Matthew’s Closet with lots of dresses.

Laura Ann Walker came up with the idea for the non-profit she hopes to start from scripture. Matthew isn’t one of her students. He’s one of Jesus’.

The name for her eventual non-profit is inspired by Matthew 25: “When I was naked, you clothed me.”

Her idea began a few years ago with a few armloads of frills and sequins that had been worn to some fancy dances. Now she has several hundred dresses for girls and young women to borrow for special occasions. With Valentine’s Day dances and prom season around the corner, Walker is looking to add to the collections.

Walker is planning a Facebook page for Matthew’s Closet, but for now she can be reached through her own personal page. If any individual wants to donate dresses or services, they can also leave a message for her at Alexander  at 601-833-7549.

She is also looking for females who have events to attend, but not the means to purchase a dress. She’s contacting schools this week to let students know about her project. Girls who need a dress for a prom or formal event should speak to the counselor at their school. All area high school counselors will have contact information for Walker. Girls can also talk to area youth pastors who have her contact information as well.

She has hundreds of dresses in assorted colors, lengths, sizes and styles. She’s also added shoes, purses and jewelry to the closet, but is in need of more styles and sizes.

Since Walker’s current inventory and her space available seem to be at odds, she has photographs of each of the dresses in a catalogue, even if they are not physically displayed. This allows the girls to flip through the pages to find their perfect dress.

Walker has partnered with Jennifer Meilstrup at Gym of Dreams and hopes to eventually convert the second floor into an area where people can easily access and peruse the dresses with a dressing room and mirrors. For now, she’s using the catalog system and her own memory to find the perfect dress for those who come to her for assistance.

With a non-profit status, Walker hopes to be able to see Matthew’s Closet expand past just dresses. She’d like to have sports equipment and musical instruments available for students who need them as well, she said.

Walker doesn’t limit her prom project to just females either.

“If there’s a boy who needs something, I will do my best to help them,” she said. “I just don’t want any student not to participate in an event for means that are out of their control.”