A group of local philanthropists are asking the community if they can dig into their hearts and their closets to donate a spare prom dress for some displaced students from Far Rockaway finishing out the school year at other area high schools.
The drive is the brainchild of Kristin Stelfox, a Stony Brook resident who thought of the idea after reading about a similar drive in the aftermath of a devastating tornado that touched down in Joplin, Mo. in May of 2011.
"When you have those kinds of tragedies you're thinking about immediate needs," Stelfox said. "Food, water, basic clothes. But by the time the end of the school year came around, people didn't have prom dresses. I figured, why can't that be replicated here, where we have similar circumstances."
Stelfox's goal was to gather as many prom dresses as possible for those students forced out of their home in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: students whose lives have been turned upside down and may not have the financial circumstances to go out and shop for what is arguably the biggest night in a teenager's life. She teamed up with Amanda Dulaney, a New York City social studies teacher in Brooklyn, and a 2007 graduate of Sachem High School East.
Dulaney said the idea was perfect for her building considering so many of her students have been givers themselves.
"I have students that are underprivileged," Dulaney said. "My kids are inner city, and they've actually donated to the Red Cross, they've done blood drives, they've done coat drives. Plus our building got kids from the Rockaways who were displaced. My kids have been very generous and this is a surprise for them. We haven't told them yet."
"Amanda's kids have been looking for ways to help these new students, and she was in the process of finding a private charity that would donate dresses," Stelfox explained in an email blast. "She wasn't having any luck and when I approached her with this idea she was 100% on board."
Majority of the dresses will go to Dulaney's school, but depending on the outpour of donated dresses, the plan will be to distribute them to other affected schools. So far Stelfox has gathered more than 20 dresses, about halfway to their initial goal of 50. Dulaney said she was especially thrilled to see that some of the donated dresses were plus size, and is encouraging donations of all shapes and sizes.
"Plus, it's a starting point," Stelfox added. "These dresses can be modified, updated, bows can be taken off or the dress can be altered to fit your personal taste."
Dresses should be gently used, but they will also accept dresses purchased from Goodwill or other thrift stores. All dresses will be collected by April 1. Dulaney plans to surprise her students with them just before the height of prom season fever.
So, if you have a spare prom dress and would like to donate it to this cause, you can ship or personally deliver the dresses to 15 Botany Lane, Stony Brook, NY 11790, care of: Kristin Stelfox and Sue Sugar. Click on the gallery photo for the official drive flyer, and for contact information.