ELMSFORD, N.Y. — With about 1,000 prom dresses stored in an Elmsford warehouse, Operation Prom directors are now reaching out to Westchester County residents and businesses for dress donations in hopes that this year will be its most successful yet.
Operation Prom, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization, has begun its ninth year preparing for the spring prom season. Since its founding, the organization has supplied more than 3,500 free dresses and tuxedos to local high school students who can't afford prom formal wear.
The organization is looking to Westchester County residents and businesses to help by donating their gently used prom or bridal gowns so students who can't afford the expense can enjoy their proms come springtime. The organization is in special need of plus sizes and jewelry and accessories this year, said Operation Prom founder Noel D'Allaco.
"Every year I hope it keeps getting bigger and bigger," D'Allaco said. "We've been getting great support from the community, the county executive and the Department of Social Services."
D'Allaco and other members of the organization met Friday at the county warehouse in Elmsford to assess their inventory and begin organizing the dresses left over from last year, when they helped 800 Westchester County students receive free dresses. The organization also encourages students to excel academically, as applicants for the program are accepted only after they bring copies of their report cards to show they're doing well in school.
Designers and stores such as Aidan Mattox, Adrianna Papell and Bloomingdale's have donated to help sponsor the program. Also partnering with Operation Prom is Men's Warehouse, which D'Allaco recruited last year to match boys with free tuxedos.
Men's Warehouse, which has a Greenburgh location at 360 Tarrytown Road, offers free tuxedos to two boys per school who have shown they are in need and are receiving good grades.
"You get one chance to go to prom, and it's an important time in students' lives," said Men's Warehouse operations manager Bruce Garber. "We're always pleased to help."
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has annually promoted the cause by securing free storage space at the county warehouse for the thousands of dresses the organization is likely to receive.
"We are delighted to continue to help Operation Prom in its effort to ensure that no one is denied the prom experience due to the expense," Astorino said in a statement.
Operation Prom will distribute the dresses March 26-29 in New Rochelle, Yonkers and White Plains.
To find out how and where you can donate used formal wear to Operation Prom, visit the organization's website.