Prom attire programs help dress financially strapped students


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Two programs are offering free prom attire to ease the financial stress on high school students.

As in years past, Project Prom, sponsored by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, and Becca's Closet, run by student volunteers at Winchester Thurston School, will be making available new and gently worn formal wear in the latest styles.

Project Prom will stage its giveaway 3 to 6 p.m. on March 24, 25 and 26 at the SOURCE Shop on the third floor of Century III Mall in West Mifflin. Students may select from dresses, shoes, purses and accessories that have been screened to make sure they're clean, undamaged and up to date.

One Enchanted Evening in Pine is donating 65 new dresses to the effort, said project manager Samantha Baer McVicker, and The Winner Outlet in Sharon will be contributing new gowns as well. Each girl will be paired with a volunteer to help find the right dress.

Any leftovers from the giveaway will be sold to the public at large from noon to 6 p.m. April 1. Prices will start at $5, but most will be priced at $25 or less.

Proceeds will go toward purchasing tuxedo rental gift certificates for boys, who may request them by calling the department hot line at 412-350-3428 and leaving a message. In previous years, the program has given away 15 to 20 tuxedo vouchers.

This year's Project Prom has been expanded to include students participating in the free school lunch program or who have a parent receiving unemployment compensation. As always, it's open to students receiving any services from the Department of Human Services, including food banks, energy assistance, child welfare, mental health, mental disability or substance abuse.

"Given the economic downturn, we decided to expand the criteria so that eligible high school students who otherwise would not be able to attend their prom have an opportunity to participate," said Ms. McVicker.

To apply for eligibility or to make a donation -- new shoes are especially needed --visit allegheny.pa.us/dhs or call the hot line, 412-350-3428 and leave a message. The application form is relatively simple: students only need to print the form, fill it out and bring it to the event.

Becca's Closet at Winchester Thurston will have its dress distribution from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 18 in the school gym, 555 Morewood Ave., Shadyside. Any girl who comes may select a free gown.

As with Project Prom, the dresses will be new or gently worn and stylish. School volunteers have been collecting them all year long and now have hundreds of choices in all sizes.

For more information or to donate a dress, contact mcauleyv@winchesterthurston.org or call 412-526-7489.


Sally Kalson can be reached at skalson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1610.


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