For one Monmouth County nonprofit, prom season starts this week
You've read and heard stories about "promposals" and other traditions, both new and old, relating to the biggest night of many high schoolers' lives. But for some, simply finding appropriate prom attire presents a financial difficulty for their families.
Helping those people is the idea behind Cinderella's Closet of Monmouth County, which was founded in 2007 by two then-high school students. The group's mission is "to make sure that no student has to forgo attending their prom due to any financial hardship."
The organization's Mary Pat Serhus said they reach a lot of students through guidance counselors and other staff at local schools, and find out what those kids will need for the big night.
"We can help them afford the cost by providing prom dresses, tuxedos, accessories, shoes," Serhus said. "Used shoes aren't really, you know, something that most people would want to wear, so we use the money we raise to buy shoes, to buy jewelry, to buy handbags."
She added that while some adults are obviously involved with operations at Cinderella's Closet, high school students continue to comprise a sizable portion of the volunteers. Many come back to assist with prom season even after they graduate high school, having seen the effect their work has on their peers.
"It was a really nice way for a lot of the volunteers to come together, in a fun atmosphere, to also raise awareness of what we do," she said.
Cinderella's Closet holds an annual Prom Fashion Showcase, which is its main fundraiser each year and sets the tone for the Prom Boutique later in the season. The Prom Fashion Showcase 2016 is coming up on Jan. 29. For the first time this year, the organization is using its own inventory to model its fashions, while continuing to work with prom shops as well as local high schools participating in dress drives. Men's Wearhouse chips in to supply tuxedo attire.
"We also have another aspect of the show where local high school students design their own prom attire, and they get to model it also," Serhus said.
More information about the Showcase, which will be held in Neptune, is available at cinderellasclosetmc.org.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's evening news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015, email email@example.com, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.