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Last year's prom gown; this year's wish come true

Saturday, March 08, 2003

By Mackenzie Carpenter, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Is that pretty dress that your daughter wore last year to the prom gathering dust in her closet? Then consider donating it to Project Prom, so some girl who otherwise couldn't afford it will be able to participate in a major high school rite of passage.

The Allegheny Department of Human Services is launching a drive to collect clean, gently used or new dresses -- along with shoes, purses, wraps, jewelry and hair accessories.

"We just got a beautiful shipment of 22 dresses yesterday, and people are walking down the hall oohing and aahing at them," said Dana Sheehan, communications director for the department's Office of Community Relations. The dresses, from David's Bridal, are new, although they came without tags so the sizes are not yet known.

While Sheehan says they hope to get enough currently styled dresses to suit everyone, there's no guarantee that an outfit will be available in the right size and style.

Girls who are now receiving services from the department will be eligible -- including those in the Children Youth and Family Division's system, in employment and training programs, or being served by the Office of Mental Retardation/Development Disabilities. About 200 girls could be helped by the drive.

"We get requests periodically for prom gowns, and we were talking about how important the prom is to high-schoolers, but a lot of girls just don't have the resources to go," said Sheehan, who came up with the idea a few months ago with colleague, Ebony Pugh. "We want to make sure they do go."

The drive will run from April 14-25. Donated items will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Parental Stress Center, 5877 Commerce St., East Liberty. For directions, call the center at 412-361-4800 or go online at www.pscfamily.net.

There will also be a one-day collection from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16 in the United Way Building, 1 Smithfield St., Downtown. Clean items in bags will be accepted by a receptionist in Suite 400.

More information on Project Prom is available at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/dhs/projectprom.html.

Mackenzie Carpenter can be reached at mcarpenter@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1949.

Correction/Clarification: (Published March 11, 2003) Donations of prom dresses for teens in the county's child welfare system should be left at the Parental Stress Center, 5877 Commerce St., East Liberty, in the old Pace School building (across from Whole Foods). The drive will run from April 14 to April 25, Mondays through Fridays, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. A story in Saturday's editions gave the address of the dropoff center incorrectly.

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