Person of the Week quietly contributes to prom Cinderella stories of girls in need

Guy Roberts and Hayden Cray are linked by Operation Prom Dress, the Eblen Charities effort to provide prom dresses for local teens. (Photo credit: John Le WLOS)

Our Person of the Week, Guy Roberts of Asheville Cleaners, helped launch a major non-profit in the mountains and is an important contributor to what's become a prom tradition.

Last week at Eblen Charities, everyone in the room had something of a Cinderella story.

"I feel pretty!" declared Dana Russell of A.C. Reynolds High, trying on a dress.

"Operation Prom Dress" gave Russell and fellow Rocket Hayden Cray a rare shopping spree.

"It's really awesome that they have this for underprivileged kids," Cray said. "To go out and pick out a dress that can be like 700 dollars, sometimes."

"I'm really super grateful," Russell added. "Because I don't have the amount of money a lot of people have to get a prom dress."

With the help of local businesses, Eblen collects 800 dresses.

For so many of teens, Eblen's Bill Murdock says Roberts is knight in shining armor who goes mostly unnoticed.

"His family's been part of the community for generations, and he has stepped up continually," he says.

At Asheville Cleaners, Roberts and his family have been a fixture on Merrimon Avenue since 1938.

Roberts pulled out an advertisement from 1960. "That shows my grandfather, my dad, and his brother," he explained.

The tradition of giving back continues. Over the years, he's collected and handled thousands of donated prom dresses that needed cleaning to look new.

"These are some of the dresses we've cleaned today," Guy says. "We're air-drying them."

He was one of the founding members who jump-started Eblen Charities.

"And Guy's usually the first one in to do something," Murdock said. "And usually the last one to leave until it gets done. Every community should be as fortunate to have Guy Roberts."

"Well, I just think it helps people in need," Roberts said with humility.

His contribution is part of a community effort to make sure every Cinderella has a ball.

"I would probably say 'Thank you!'," said Cray, a Reynolds girl who is Roberts' latest satisfied customer.

"Because it's pretty clean," she said, laughing.

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