The daunting price tag of prom was significantly slashed Sunday for hundreds of students in Lynwood who were unable to afford dresses and suits this year.
In partnership with the Lynwood Unified School District, the St. Francis Medical Center Foundation invited high school seniors to participate in its third annual Prom Dress Project. The distribution program provides students with donated brand-new and slightly used dresses, shoes and jewelry gratis.
"It's an important event that the community really looks forward to," said Celeste Goff, a volunteer from St. Francis Medical Center. "Prom dresses are expensive, not everyone can afford one."
Created in 2012, the project serves more than 500 students in the Southeast Los Angeles region – exclusive to Lynwood, South Gate and Compton high schools – who are in need of graduation, prom and job-interview attire.
There is no income requirement. Hair consultations and make-up tips are also provided.
For Sunday, the St. Francis Medical Center Auditorium was transformed into a boutique, and a group of volunteers – called "fairy godmothers" – rallied to help students find custom outfits.
"It's a really nice idea, especially since we're all seniors and we have a lot of stuff on our hands," said Elizabeth Lazcano, a senior at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School.
"We have college applications, SAT fees, we have so much money that we have to spend."
L.A. fashion designer Maria Bianca Nero donated more than 950 new dresses for the event. Another designer from Pasadena donated roughly 100 dresses.
Organizers have asked the public to continue to donate “gently used and dry-cleaned” dresses, shoes, jewelry, purses, suits and ties through March 25.Clothing donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Francis Medical Center at 3630 E. Imperial Highway in Lynwood. Monetary donations can either be gifted on site or online.
The students get to keep the clothing from the distribution events, and seniors will don their new threads at the end of April.