Good Neighbors

Sorority Sisters Team Up To Make Sure Every Girl Can Go To Prom

They're hosting a formalwear giveaway on campus. Don't live there? We'll show you how to find free dresses near you!

Prom is a rite of passage for most high school students. But for many kids it's just too expensive, with prom dresses costing hundreds of dollars, not to mention the price of shoes, jewelry, flowers, tuxedos.

A group of sorority sisters at Alfred State College in south central New York are making sure no one stays home on prom night because they can't afford a gown.

The school's campus center is set up like a boutique.Project Prom Dress Alfred State Facebook

Members of Delta Chi Omega work all year, collecting donations of hundreds of new and gently used prom dresses, shoes and accessories from individuals and local bridal shops. It all comes together on a Sunday in March (this year it's March 22) when the young women set up their Project Prom Dress Extravaganza in the school's campus center.

Each girl can take her time selecting and trying on dresses.Project Prom Dress Alfred State Facebook

"The reality is that prom gowns are an expense that does not fit into a lot of families' budgets," Alfred State's Sandra Burdick told the Wellsville Daily Reporter.

"Our goal is to ease the financial burden so the girls can enjoy every moment of their prom."

The college publicizes the giveaway to school districts throughout the region. Burdick says the number of girls taking advantage grows every year. "It's wonderful to see some of the girls come in from the previous year and re-donate their gown before choosing a new one. It touches them and they feel how wonderful it is to give as well as to receive."

Saying "Yes" to a beautiful prom dress!Project Prom Dress Alfred State Facebook

Project Prom Dress Extravaganza 2020 will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22 in the Pioneer Center on the campus of Alfred State College in Alfred, NY.

Hundreds of volunteers help girls shop the Abby's Closet prom dress giveaway at the Portland Convention CenterAbby's Closet Facebook page

Don't live in New York? Here are just a few of the organizations we found (with a quick internet search) all over the country that do the same thing. All are gearing up for their giveaways, most of which will happen in March:

  • Abby's Closet in Portland, Oregon is so huge they have to hold it in the convention center.
  • Becca's Closet has 68 chapters in states from Massachusetts to California. Click here to find out if there's one near you.
  • Belle of the Ball Project in the Tampa, Florida area has given away 4500 dresses in the past 7 years.
  • Glass Slipper Project in Chicago has helped more than 20,000 young women since 1999 attend their proms.
  • The Giving Gown Foundation is based in Houston and serves 500 girls a year on their Boutique Day.
  • Project Prom in Pittsburgh is a partnership between the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the National Council of Jewish Women. They stage a one-week event in the NCJW's Thriftique boutique in the city's Lawrenceville neighborhood. Some of the dresses were worn by actresses filming the Netflix film "Sweet Girl" starring Jason Momoa in Pittsburgh recently. How cool is that!
If none of these boutiques is located where you live, do your own internet search for "free prom dresses near me" and we bet you'll find one. It's hard not to smile when you see the joy on the girls' faces at the Giving Gown Foundation's Boutique Day.

Many non-profits that provide free prom dresses also give away formalwear for other dances like Homecoming, and some provide formalwear for guys too.

How can you start something good?

If you think making sure every girl has a dress for prom, why not get involved with an organization in your area that collects and distributes formal wear?

Just use your favorite search engine and look for "free prom dresses near me" to find a group in your neighborhood that's running a prom project. One you find one, check out their website or Facebook page and see how you can help. All need donations of dresses (plus sizes are especially in demand), shoes and jewelry, donations of money, and volunteers to help the girls shop for the perfect outfit.

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