Free dresses; now it’s prom time

Scores of young women who were unable to buy their prom dresses received free dresses during the fourth annual Prom Dress Giveaway on Saturday, May 14.

The event organized by Brooklyn State Senator Kevin Parker was held in partnership with Sesame Flyers International, Inc. and Lydia’s Closet.

The Tilden H.S. cafeteria was transformed into a fashion salon with more than 500 donated dresses ranging in sizes 0 through 24. Parents and guardians brought their young ladies to pick out a free dress. This event helps families who could not otherwise afford to allow their girls to attend their prom.

There were vendors who offered their prom related services. There was a limo company; beauty stylists; jewelry and fashionable hair extensions/wigs among other businesses. Most of these vendors raffled some of their services to the attendees and offered discounts.

A makeup artist provided makeovers to the young ladies, which complimented the dresses they selected. There were also raffles for the young ladies to receive jewelry to go with their dresses (Senator Parker also gave each young lady a bracelet for attending that day). There were raffles for several haircuts that the prom dates could use for their escorts.

Senator Parker began the prom dress giveaway four years ago when a young lady visited his office asking for help in getting a dress for her prom. He realized that many young ladies in his district were having the same issue and did not bother to try and attend their proms. This is what made him decide to do this for his future constituents.

Even though the doors officially opened at noon there were parents and students in line as of 8:00 a.m. The girls were allowed to try on three dresses then pick one to keep. Senator Parker’s office begins their prom dress collection in March. There were new and gently used dresses that were available. The racks and hangers were donated by Macy’s. Macy’s also donates purses for the young ladies to carry the day of their proms. David’s Bridal and the Salvation Army have also donated dresses to Senator Parker’s event.

Volunteers from the NYC Explorers (Fire Cadets), OBT (Opportunities for Tomorrow) and the Haitian organization Belltifi were helpful in ensuring that the prom dress giveaway ran smoothly. The 67th Precinct Policing Community Affairs kept the line outside and inside orderly so everyone had a chance to take part in the event.

Instructions on prom etiquette and safety were included in the gift bags.

Principal Amote Sias of Brooklyn Collegiate, a college bound school founded in 2004 in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn said it was her first time at the event although her students had previously attended the events.

Senator Parker hopes to expand the prom dress giveaway into a larger event. “We hope to have this event grow larger in the coming years. We could give out appropriate dress shoes and more accessories,” he said. The senator said that he would like to lessen the monetary burden of these girls and their families, especially with the unpredictable economy.

More from Around NYC