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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Prom dresses available for low-income students

What do girls remember most about the prom? For most of us, it's the dress. With prom season in full swing, many high school girls are searching for the perfect prom dress. But job losses and the weak economy have made it difficult for some teens and their parents to afford a new dress and other prom costs. Belle of the Ball and Dream a Dress have joined forces to help.
Low-income Hillsborough and Pinellas high school students who are in need of a prom dress can visit Seminole Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3, April 17 and May 1 to get a prom dress. The mall is at 11201 Park Blvd. N. in Seminole. Other prom-related accessories, including shoes, purses and jewelry, also will be available. If you have a prom dress or accessories you'd like to donate, they'll be accepted on the same dates and times. Dress donations should be gently used, dry-cleaned and on hangers. "We want families to realize there is help out there," said Susan Schwartz, Belle of the Ball founder. "There are so many families we want to reach that did not need us in the past. We're here for them." Belle of the Ball and Dream a Dress lost their office spaces last year, but, rather than end the prom dress giveaways, they decided to pool their resources and have one drop-off and pick-up site in Pinellas. "There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the looks on the faces of the girls and their parents when they find that dress," Schwartz said. "It's very humbling." The organizations have given away more than 1,500 dresses, she said. They have more than 1,000 new and gently used dresses available ranging from sizes 0 to 12. There are a variety of styles, including strapless, backless, short and sequined, from stores such as Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and bridal boutiques. "These aren't dresses from a flea market," Schwartz said. "Some of them still have tags and were worn once or not at all. These are dresses any girl would be proud to wear to the prom." For information, visit www.belleoftheballproject.com.
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