Say yes to the prom dress

County again offers free outfits to high-schoolers for the big dance

Special to The Sun
Last year’s inaugural “Say Yes to the Prom Dress” featured over 1,000 dresses donated by residents and stores.

For the second consecutive year, Camden County is sponsoring Say Yes to the Prom Dress, a giveaway where high-school students can pick out free prom dresses, on Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21.

“We have hundreds of brand new and donated prom dresses, gowns, cocktail dresses, accessories,” said County Commissioner Melinda Kane. “The number of residents that are excited to re-purpose gowns that they have in the closets is enormous.”

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The county received more than 1,000 dresses from residents last year. Some were brand new and donated by stores, and others were never worn because of proms canceled during COVID. Appointments for dress choosing were quickly filled and the event was deemed a smashing success.

“The emotions of the day struck us all, and while we were doing it last year, we knew this was something we have to continue with,” Kane recalled. “Not only did it help out the families financially, but just as a community, that they could bring as many people with them to help them shop, and when one woman stood in front of the mirror and envisioned herself, how they would look at their prom.

“It was amazing.”

Kane acknowledged that while some girls may have been nervous or reluctant before the dress event, the experience of picking out a prom outfit was a meaningful one.

“They looked totally transformed,” Kane related. “Just the smile on their faces and feeling seen and acknowledged.”

Leading up to the giveaway, volunteers help clean, sort and test the dresses to make sure their zippers work. On the day of, they also help escort the girls.

“It’s so exciting and heartwarming to share the experience with the young women who are selecting dresses, with family members and friends,” Kane enthused. “And we all share the excitement when they try on the dress and they see this is their dress.”

For the two-day event, the Camden County boathouse is transformed into a boutique where the dresses are organized by color and size and there is a fitting area. The event is in conjunction with the county sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office, the Department of Corrections and Camden County police.

Those seeking prom dress appointments must register in advance at https://www.camdencounty.com/service/prom-dress-collection-drive-giveaway. They must also be Camden County residents. Time slots are from 3 to 7 p.m. on both March dates.

Dress donations will be collected until Friday, March 8, at the county sheriff’s office at 520 Market St. in Camden from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the county parks department at 1301 Park Blvd. in Cherry Hill from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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