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ACO kicks off prom event, nearly 500 dresses donated
For most high school students, prom is more than just a night of glitz and glam: It's an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.
But for many under-privileged teens in Collin County, the attendant expense of gowns, tuxedos and jewelry can make participating in the rite of passage difficult or even impossible.
For the past four years, Allen Community Outreach has been working to change that.
Every year, the nonprofit collects gowns, tuxedos, shoes, jewelry and other accessories for its annual prom event. In-need teens are identified through ACO case workers and Allen, Lovejoy and Farmersville high school counselors.
Each benefitting student is provided with a voucher, which they can use to purchase whatever accessories they need from the ACO Resale Shop free of charge. The 10 students, all female, will also receive a package with coupons for hairstyling, manicures, flowers, makeup, dinner and tickets for the Allen After Prom event.
"For a lot of these young ladies, this is their princess day for them to get their hair done and their nails done," said Del Herrod, director of resale shops for ACO. "For that one day, they don't have to worry about what's going on in their day to day life."
Since February, the agency has collected nearly 500 used and new dresses from private donors and local retailers. They're on sale to the general public now at the Resale Shop and range in price from $5 to $20.
The shop held a public kick-off party for the prom event March 29 featuring music, food and celebrity guests like Kendall Morris, Miss Texas 2011, and Reilly Johannsen, Miss Texas' Outstanding Teen 2011. This year's benefitting teens were present to discreetly exchange vouchers for as many accessories as they needed.
"It was amazing to see over 150 teens, moms and some dads shopping Thursday night for prom," said Glenda May, ACO executive director. "We were so blessed to have over 450 donated prom dresses and tuxes for the teens to choose from. This year the community really supported the prom event with clothing, accessories, makeup, hairstylists and restaurants. This event helps make prom affordable for all families."
The event has grown significantly since its humble beginnings. The first year of the event yielded only 100 dresses and benefitted three girls. Now the event is starting to turn a profit for ACO programs and draw attention from local television stations, several of which covered last year's kick-off party.
"It's kind of growing its own wings and flying and sprouting because people know we're going to do this every year," Herrod said. "It's something very near and dear to our hearts."
The dresses, as well as some tuxedos, will be available through the end of prom, as will the agency's search for students to help, Herrod said.
"It's not over for this year," she said. "So if somebody still wants to help us, we're still taking gift cards for meals or flowers or anything they want to help us with."
The ACO Resale Shop is at 801 E. Main St. It is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For information, visit www.acocares.org.
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