WASHINGTON – Spring is here and, the wondrous, once-in-a-teenager’s-lifetime event, the prom, is around the corner. But not all high school seniors can afford to buy their dream dress or tuxedo.
Jasmine Jackson was one of those who was on the outside looking in.
“I was one of the families that could not afford prom,” Jasmine said. “My guidance counselor had to give me some stuff to make it work out,” said Jackson. “It’s very expensive. The prom, graduation itself, getting the teen ready and looking nice and everything.
“A lot of families cannot afford it.” Jackson, a 23-year-old library technician, now works at the Rosedale library and started the Prom Come True drive. The Prom Come True drive gives out free prom dresses, accessories, jewelry, shoes, tuxedos and formal wear that are lightly worn and donated by members of the community.
When she started the drive last year, she was surprised by the strong participation from the community. She collected over 200 dresses.
“Last year, I went to Baltimore to pick up 100 dresses,” she said.
The drive was so successful, Jackson said, that she had leftovers.
“We had more stuff than people,” she said.
In order to stay current, the left over prom material from last year was given to the South Dakota Avenue Goodwill, two weeks after the event.
Jackson’s expectation for this year’s event, which will take place at the Rosedale Recreation Center on April 25, is that more teens will come out and enjoy the generosity of their community’s donors.
So far, there have been 65 dresses donated and hopes plans to pass the target of 200 dresses by distribution day.
Jackson said she thought there was one word to explain why some students weren’t taking advantage of the donations.
“I think it’s something to do with pride because of their age,” she said. “Or I guess they didn’t hear about it in time and a lot of them didn’t know about it.”
To counter that feeling of pride in teens, Jackson invited Chris Cooper of Project Tissue 8, a seamstress, to help out the girls. Cooper is in charge of helping them out with sizing and revamping the dresses to customize it to the teen’s taste. The only charge of the event is the $5 Cooper charges for alterations.
This drive not only benefits high school seniors but it also benefits donors because the library provides tax receipts that can be used as tax deductions, Jackson said.
“We have the Friends of The Rosedale Library, which is a 501 (c) corporation, and we’re partnering with them on this program,” she said. "So all donations made, are on behalf of the Friends of Rosedale Public Library. So yes, the donations would be tax deductible," added Jackson.
All that is required to receive a prom dress or tuxedo is a high school identification. Jackson encourages prospective high school senior graduates to drop by on April 25 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., to find the dress or tuxedo of their liking.
For more information, visit Prom Come True.