Danielle Lutz

How Danielle Lutz Makes Prom a Reality for Hundreds of Detroit Teens

July 27, 2018

Danielle Lutz created her own charity, reWEARable, dedicated to providing prom and special occasion dresses for girls who cannot afford them.

By Eden Lichterman

Photography by Boswell Hardwick

Since she was little, Danielle Lutz loved to experiment with fashion. At 12, she looked forward to dressing up every weekend for bar and bat mitzvahs. The now 16-year-old Wylie E. Groves High School senior channeled her inner fashionista again in May when she dressed up for her first prom.

But Lutz doesn’t just focus on her own outfits; she ensures hundreds of other young women can also look and feel their best at monumental events.

During her first two years of high school, Lutz gathered dresses for The Princess Project, a California-based charity that collects prom dresses for teens in the Bay Area. When Lutz asked clothing stores in Metro Detroit for donations, however, they often responded that they would rather contribute to local organizations. So this past fall, Lutz decided to start her own charity, reWEARable, which collects special occasion dresses, accessories and shoes for girls in Metro Detroit who cannot afford them.

“To give back to a community in a way that also excites me and is one of my passions was important,” says Lutz, a Birmingham resident.

Danielle LutzCourtesy Lutz Family

Danielle Lutz helps a shopper find a prom dress at reWEARable’s prom event at the Detroit School of Arts in March.

Lutz constantly receives emails and messages on reWEARable’s Facebook and Instagram accounts from people who want to donate dresses. Contributors typically drop off dresses at her father’s office in Birmingham. Lutz then distributes the dresses to recipients or at reWEARable events.

In March, Lutz organized an event at the Detroit School of Arts to provide prom dresses, accessories and shoes for girls in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. She began collecting dresses this past fall and worked tirelessly each weekend with middle school volunteers to sort through and clean them. She gathered over 800 dresses.

At the event, guests strutted down a red carpet and were greeted by racks of dresses, tables of accessories and shoes, changing rooms and a checkout station with reWEARable bags. Lutz and around 20 volunteers matched shoppers with 700 dresses, leaving the rest at the school for girls who didn’t attend.

“It was important for me to make them feel like they were having a shopping experience and not just coming to get a free dress,” Lutz says.

Danielle LutzCourtesy Lutz Family

Danielle Lutz (third from left) smiles with volunteers at reWEARable’s prom event at the Detroit School of Arts in March.

Those who know Lutz closely admire her drive to help others in need. Darin Wilcox, assistant principal of Groves, says he gets a “front-row seat” every day to watch Lutz pursue her goals. “She’s got a mature sense of empathy. She can put herself in somebody else’s shoes,” Wilcox says.

Danielle LutzCourtesy Lutz Family

Danielle Lutz poses with Darin Wilcox, assistant principal of Wylie E. Groves High School, at reWEARable’s prom event at the Detroit School of Arts.

After attending the reWEARable event in March, Wilcox raved about Lutz to his wife, a teacher at A.L. Holmes Academy of Blended Learning in Detroit. Each year, the eighth-graders at this prekindergarten through eighth-grade school have a formal dinner dance to celebrate the end of the year. Yet, many students cannot afford dresses for the occasion.

Lutz stepped up to the plate and went downtown with a few friends to provide dresses for the eighth-grade girls. Not only did they make a difference in the lives of these girls, but they also had “the opportunity to recognize how valuable it is to help somebody else,” Wilcox says.

With only one more year of high school, Lutz hopes to pass down reWEARable to a teen board of middle and high school students. While she may no longer be in the Detroit area after this  year, her kind-hearted presence will remain in everything she created. “I’ve always had a passion for making other people smile,” she says.

To donate, contact Lutz at DanielleLutz@rewearable.net or call 248-930-9010.

Danielle is a SEEN 2018 Young Changemaker. Read more about the finalists:

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