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Prom Project helps local students graduate in style

By Stephanie James

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Maribeth deSnoo, executive director of the Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, shows examples of dresses donated to the Prom Project. Suits and dresses will be available to local students for proms and graduations who may be lacking the funds to purchase one on their own. Photo by Stephanie James

With many dresses and suits already donated to the Prom Project, local students will be able to graduate in style.

Some households can find it difficult to purchase a dress or suit for their son or daughter to wear for their prom or graduation nights.

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, through their Student Emergency Fund program, has been working hard to get the word out about the Prom Project.

The Prom Project is an opportunity for members of the public to donate their gently used prom dresses and suits, which will be sent to different high schools and elementary schools in the Hastings and Prince Edward County area. Students then have the chance to choose a dress or suit from the selection to wear to their prom or Grade 8 graduation, free of cost.

“It’s about being inclusive. Everyone deserves to celebrate their prom,” said Maribeth DeSnoo, executive director of the Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation and the main contact for the Prom Project.

In addition to donating graduation items to the schools, Glenda Tracey, the manager of Shoppers Drug Mart  in the Quinte Mall, will be providing makeup kits, also free of charge, to all schools participating.

DeSnoo says the idea of the Prom Project is to make it feel welcoming for students, and that inquiries about the Prom Project have been tremendous from both parents and principals wanting to get involved.

The project does not just stop at public donations. Local businesses such as Trenton Clothing and Repair and Nan’s Health and Wellness in Bancroft have opened their doors as places for people to drop off their used dresses and suits. Also, a number of clothing cleaners in the Trenton and Belleville area have offered to dry clean all of the items for free.

One major sponsor of the Prom Project is Dresses and Dreams Bridal Boutique, located downtown Belleville. The store already has a count of roughly 40 dresses of different colours and sizes to pass on to the Prom Project.

Store owner Belinda Price-Hewton says her store wanted to get involved with proms in some way this year and that the Prom Project was the perfect opportunity.

With lots of last year’s prom dresses still in stock, Dresses and Dreams will be donating a selection to the Prom Project if they are not sold by April and 10 per cent of the money the store makes from prom dress sales will go toward helping students to buy tickets to their proms and other proceeds for the project.

“I would rather donate them to a good cause,” said Price-Hewton.

During its first year, the Prom Project is only accepting dresses and suits but hopes to widen the range of items that can be donated to shoes, purses and jewelry, and other items students could put to use to add to their graduation experience.

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