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Ready for prom-time! Dress giveaway helps high schoolers get gussied up

Throw it in the bag: Magdala Charles from Flatbush got the dress she wanted for prom at the Brooklyn Operation Prom giveaway.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Some lucky Brooklyn high schoolers are going to the prom thanks to a fashion-forward giveaway that will let them dress to the nines on a budget of zero.

Operation Prom provides free prom dresses to girls from low-income families so they can join in on the party of the year without breaking the bank. The price of the annual blowout is just too much for some households to muster, said an organizer.

“With everything the prom involves it can cost as much as a mini-wedding,” said Dawn Simon, who was not able to attend her own prom when she was a youngster. “We help alleviate the financial burden.”

The dresses were handed out on April 12 at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women on Adams Street, between Johnson and Fulton streets, but the high school seniors came from schools all over the borough, Simon said.

Simon focused on reaching out to schools where most of the students qualify for free lunch, to insure the attire goes to kids who need the help, she said.

Reactions from the girls varied, but they all appreciate what the group is doing, said Simon.

Treasure hunt: Operation Prom got about 150 girls into dresses for the last big dance of their high school careers.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“Some of them are humbled. Some are shy. Some are embarrassed. But they’re all very grateful,” she said.

The 10-year-old organization runs the pre-prom aid program at locations around New York and in cities across the country. This is the second year for its Brooklyn giveaway. The group accepts donated dresses with drop-off points located in local businesses, then runs dress drives to hand them out. Any leftover dresses get shipped to the next giveaway location, according to the group.

The Brooklyn drive drew about 100 volunteers who helped to get 150 seniors geared up for the big night. And the dresses are only part of what the volunteers do. They want to make sure the young ladies feel special, Simon said.

The girls got to sift through racks with about 800 dresses, searching for the perfect fit. And when they found the right dress, it was obvious, said Simon.

“There’s something transformative that happens when they put on the right dress. They just blossom. They exude confidence,” she said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
The perfect fit: Shakira Charles from Crown Heights holds up the sweet threads she scored at Operation Prom.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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