FIT FOR A PRINCESS — Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides donated more than 25 gowns to the Prom Dress Drive on March 19. Pictured, from left: Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides Buffalo owner Kristen Garro and her son Mason, Amy Pequignot and her daughter Bailey, Legislator Lynne Dixon, Olivia Hanning and her daughter Ocean. Photo submitted by Jessica O’Neil.
SPRINGVILLE — In anticipation of prom season, Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon kicked off the fourth annual Prom Dress Drive, to help high school girls get to the prom in style, regardless of their budgets.
This year, girls can browse the racks at Performing Arts Dance Academy, located at 206 Lake St. in Hamburg, from 3 – 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 and from noon – 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 14.
In advance of the drive, donations are being accepted, through Friday, March 29 at several locations, including the Boston Free Library, located at 9475 Boston State Road in Boston.
“I am very excited to partner with Performing Arts and offer girls a truly unique and fun shopping experience,” Dixon said. “Searching for the perfect gown is fun, but it can also be challenging. That is why I am so grateful to the community, for donating many great gowns, to provide a large collection for our shoppers to look through, this year.”
Suzanne Mall, owner and director of Performing Arts Dance Academy, said, “Performing Arts Dance Academy is dedicated to serving the needs of young women, in our community. As director of the school, I feel it is my privilege to offer our beautiful facility to this amazing cause, in meeting the social needs of the young girls it will be serving. And, as a mother of three, who raised two daughters through the highly emotional teen years, I understand the importance of helping make them feel beautiful and special in any way possible, especially at prom season.”
The Prom Dress Drive started when Dixon first took office, following a conversation with the director of the Eden Boys & Girls Club. She said the drive was a good way to help not only economically disadvantaged girls, but all girls, regardless of their finances.
“I wanted to find a way of helping young women in our area go to prom. I didn’t want an inability to get a dress to prevent them going to the big dance,” Dixon said.
“The cost of prom has just become so expensive. It’s often a burden on families, regardless of their financial circumstances. For proms, especially, you buy a dress, wear it for a couple hours and then it’s done. It just makes economic sense,” she said.
The legislator has partnered with Urban Valet Dry Cleaners, to get the dresses cleaned, free of charge, prior to the day of the drive.
Both individuals and groups have donated to the drive, including a group from M&T Bank, that dropped off dresses to the Urban Valet’s Elmwood location; radio station Kiss 98.5, which called Dixon to come get dresses from its studio, and others, throughout Western New York. Dresses can be dropped off at any one of a list of locations, and Dixon said she and her staff pick up the dresses and take them to Urban Valet, periodically, both during the donation period and year-round.
“People have been very generous,” Dixon said, adding that she had met with Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides that morning, a mother’s group, which had donated more than 25 dresses to the drive.
She also said she wanted to recognize the staff members at the various drop-off sites for being “wonderful partners.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” she noted.
At the end of the drive, Dixon and her staff look for homes for any leftover dresses, such as local drama clubs, charity organizations, Aspire of Western New York and other groups, that might be able to put the dresses to use.
“We want to make sure all the dresses have a home,” she said. “We look for groups that might be able to serve populations with disabilities [and] those who are disadvantaged. There was a girl who was trying to start her own drive that ... we helped out. None of them go to waste.”
Dixon said that, on the day of the drive, she likes to talk to the girls who come shopping, to find out where they come from and where the dresses will go.
“[The shoppers] come from all over. We’ve had some from Silver Creek, further south, the city of Buffalo and, of course, Hamburg, Frontier, Lackawanna and areas I have represented, in the past,” Dixon explained. “We have girls from public and private schools; even a group of home-schooled girls, who were looking for dresses for a special dance they have, too.”
The drives are staffed by volunteers and some workers from the Erie County Legislature.
“Everyone has a great time. It’s a really fun experience,” Dixon noted. “We have all different sizes, all colors and all styles. A Vera Wang© dress came in, at one point. It’s a nice way to help out the girls who can’t afford a dress, but also those who just want to save a few bucks.”
For more information and a complete list of drop-off locations, contact Dixon at 858-8671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.