ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – This year alone, there have been at least five human trafficking-related arrests in Abilene. For this reason, one local woman has set out to help victims and other women feel their best once again by gifting them donated ballgowns.

Maegan Brest, an Abilene realtor, said she began collecting ballgowns because she wanted all women to have the opportunity to have a nice dress.  

Brest told KTAB/KRBC there was a moment when she saw a girl and her mother dress shopping, “She felt so good and so confident, and looked beautiful, and her mom just looked at her and said, ‘I don’t have the money to do it.'”

In that moment, Brest decided to collect dresses from the Abilene community to give to women and girls in need, and she filled up her storage unit. 

At the beginning of the year, Brest made contact with Beyond Trafficking, with a goal to help human trafficking survivors get matched with a dress for a gala in January. She made a Facebook post about helping those women, resulting in the donations of 120-plus dresses.

“There are people who get bullied all the time, and they don’t feel comfortable. They don’t feel comfortable wearing dresses or going places, or they don’t have the means to do it, and I want to give them that opportunity,” said Brest. “That’s why I do it, and I’ll do it every day.” 

The Executive Director of Beyond Trafficking, Stephanie Andrade-Rocha, said self-confidence is a major issue for trafficking survivors because of brainwashing. 

“To be able to get primped up and have something beautiful that they wear, that they feel beautiful in, just really helps boost their self-confidence,” Andrade-Rocha explained. 

Building this confidence was a much larger need than before. 

“This year alone, and that has been just since the beginning of January, I have had way more survivors than I normally have at this time frame,” included Andrade-Rocha. 

There is a call for the community as a whole to step up and do little things like Brest’s act, according to Andrade-Rocha, to help support survivors as their numbers only grow.

Brest told KTAB/KRBC she is not planning to stop collecting dresses anytime soon. Even though helping human trafficking survivors led to her getting more dresses, she wants to help every woman who may not have the means of getting a dress for any event they might attend. 

If you’re in need of a dress, Brest said she encourages you to reach out to her by following this link and shooting her a message.