NORTHFIELD — Prom season is fast approaching, and South Jersey teens whose families may have difficulty paying for dresses once again have somewhere to turn.

Project Prom is a volunteer effort that has given out 1,500 dresses to students in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties over the past few years, and aims to break the 2,000-dress mark in 2019.

Chairperson Rene Kane revived the concept from a similar dress drive that took place about a decade ago, recruited friends to help her, and now works to "pass the memory" of a once-worn dress to someone who will see it and get to use it anew, all for free.

"Having two daughters, I know the closets were stuffed with prom dresses, and they wear them once," Kane said. "And especially with social media, they really only wear things once."

Social media, in fact, is the reason Project Prom has been able to garner such a big following in just a couple of years. The group actually had to scale back its Facebook reach when there was too much demand in the first year, and will still get — and endeavor to honor — requests from outside the three counties it primarily serves.

Along the way, Project Prom even picked up the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City as a partner.

Kane said area parents are grateful for this opportunity to provide their children with prom attire they might not have otherwise had, and that at the annual boutique, where 30 volunteers are at the ready at any given time, all who come in for dresses are given individualized attention they wouldn't get anywhere else.

"They walk into a store and they're not made to feel like a princess," Kane said. "You know, we're all a bunch of moms, and we go over and above, and it's beautiful."

This year's event is on the second floor of Kensington Furniture & Mattress on Tilton Road in Northfield, on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Monday, April 8 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. A valid school ID must be presented.

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Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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