Back in 2005, Noel D’Allacco came up with a simple idea, to provide a way for students who are without means to afford a high school prom dress to have one by collecting donated items from community members and since then, she has expanded her organization to cater to boys as well, collecting tuxedos too.
Operation PROM has since expanded to help less fortunate students with regular donations of food, clothing and school supplies and also provides mentoring to students in need.
“The 2010–2011 season was our best yet,” said D’Allaco, “we were able to collect 3,200 dresses and arrange discounted tuxedo rental for boys and many businesses provided free or discounted hair and makeup vouchers for students as well.”
If you wish to donate a prom dress, use this check list to determine if your dress is prom-appropriate:
• Prom, bridesmaid or formal gowns (short/long)
• Trendy and fancy, not older than three years old
• Free of damage and excessive stains
• No long sleeves or velvet
Also, D’Allaco says that dresses must appeal to a 16-18-year-old and that they accept sizes 0-26, with plus sizes being in high demand. Operation PROM also accepts tuxedos, evening bags, jewelry and shawls.
The program helps hundreds of teens who live in shelters, group homes or very low-income households attend their prom at little or no cost.
To request a free prom dress or tuxedo, students must be passing all their classes and be recommended by their guidance counsellor, as well as meet the requirements such as financial need.
While all of the kids who receive these donations are extremely grateful, D’Allaco says some of them are overcome with feelings of gratitude.
“They are so appreciative, leaving with tears in their eyes, some girls have expressed that it was the first time they ever put on a dress in their life,” she said.
If you are looking to drop off a clothing item, you can visit the State Farm Insurance Office of Lisa Vitiello located at 282 White Plains Road in Eastchester, Mon-Fri from 9 a.m – 5 p.m.
For a complete list of other drop-off locations around Westchester, click here.