A prom is just another high school dance.
Unless you’re a high school girl who can’t afford a $300 dress.
Or shoes. Or jewelry. Or a bag to tie it all together.
With that in mind, the Prom Project of Schoharie County is working to publicize—and even grow--the eight-year-old effort that provides girls with an entire prom look for free.
And if it seems a little early in the season to be spreading the word, it’s not:
Many girls have already begun prom shopping, said Rose Keller, one of those who’ve been a part of the Prom Project from the start.
“A lot of people don’t know we’re out there or what we have available,” Ms. Keller said, on her way to Albany Friday to pick up, yep, more donations of prom gowns.
Part of that’s due to the fact that as the Prom Project’s grown, it’s switched locations from first, in Richmondville to now, a storage space donated by Superior Housing in Cobleskill that they’re already outgrowing.
Last year, Fusion Church volunteered its space for three or four days when girls could come in and try on gowns—something they’ll repeat in the spring—but that brought with it its own problems, Ms. Keller said, among them:
Moving the 300-plus gowns from storage.
“We’ve had racks donated and Vo-Tec even built us some,” Ms. Keller said, “and we’re so grateful to everyone.
“But if we’re going to move the dresses, the racks need wheels. And covers…and we can always use more hangers and things like shoes and accessories. We really try to make this one-stop shopping and it’s all free.”
Once girls have worn their gown, they’re asked to return it—if they can—and they’re dry-cleaned by First Choice Cleaners in Oneonta for the next prom-goer.
“We just tell them ‘Enjoy it and send us a photo’,” Ms. Keller said.
It’s not just girls who show up, Ms. Keller said; they’re trying to expand into offering tuxedos for their dates and even wedding gowns for couples who can’t afford them.
“But it all takes help,” she said. “And space. We’re always looking for more space.”
Last year, about 40 girls took advantage of the Prom Project, which also made its collection available for Fusion’s “Night to Shine,” an adult prom for Schoharie County Arc clients.
No one’s ever turned away from the Prom Project, Ms. Keller said, with girls coming from Schenectady and Delaware Counties, but they need more volunteers, supplies, and space to keep it going.
If you can help with any of that, contact Ms. Keller at (518) 231-9460.
Other members of the Prom Project are: Debbie Aidone, Lynnette Kubat, Donna Gunzinger, Jackie Gleckman, Paula Sanchez, Donna Lavigne. Maggie Pryor, Kathy Johnston, and Dulcie McCoy.