If you have a prom dress that you no longer need, don't let it hang in the back of your closet and gather dust for another day. Instead, donate it! There are a number of nonprofit organizations that specialize in collecting donated prom dresses and distributing them at no charge to needy high school students.
With chapters nationwide, Operation Prom is a registered not-for-profit organization with a home base in Bronxville, New York. It has helped thousands of teenagers around the United States attend their proms in style.
Starting in the fall each year, Operation Prom provides a list of places across the country where you can take your prom dresses for donation. To prepare for when you can next donate, you can have your gently-used dress dry cleaned. Since plus sizes are more limited in their availability, they are especially needed. All sizes, from 0 to 24, are accepted.
Dress Give Away Events
Operation Prom gets dresses into the hands of students who need them by hosting dress give away events in the early fall for homecoming dances and the early spring for proms. For updates on the events and to see how your donation may be benefiting others, you may follow the organization on Twitter.
Teen girls are typically referred to Operation Prom by a social worker, guidance counselor, or school representative. Since they must be passing classes and demonstrate a financial need, you can rest assured that the donated dresses are fairly distributed. The organization also works on other projects to benefit teens.
Becca's Closet was founded in memory of Rebecca Kirtman. Rebecca was a caring young woman who tragically passed away in a car accident only a few months after single-handedly organizing a prom dress drive for girls in her community. Becca's Closet aims to continue her vision and generous spirit as it matches gently-used, formal dresses with girls who otherwise may miss out on special occasions like the prom.
Giving a Dress
Although Becca's Closet is based in Southern Florida, it accepts dress donations all over the United States. In addition to prom dresses, this unique organization also accepts formal shoes and accessories. Contact your local chapter for specific needs in your community. Basically, you need to be sure the prom dress is free from damage. It should be in current styles. If it's over five years old, it is probably going to be too outdated for the needs of Becca's Closet, but you can still donate it to your local secondhand shops. Clean the prom dress before donating it; it needs to look ready to wear.
Becca's Closet also invites concerned volunteers to help out in other ways beyond prom dress donation, too. Volunteer at your local chapter if you have extra time available. You can also help by making a monetary donation to one of this charity's causes.
The WGirls, an international organization with chapters across the United States and the United Kingdom, hosts a dress donation group called Project G.L.A.M. that aims to help disadvantaged teens attend their proms. Since the inception of Project G.L.A.M., it has garnered a great deal of press and praise. From big cities like New York and Los Angeles to very small towns across the nation, this organization receives and distributes prom dresses of all sizes to girls who want and need them.
Sending In Your Dress
Go through your closet, and identify any formal dresses that you no longer need. As long as they are not tattered, dirty, or torn, they should be gleefully accepted by this organization. Dry clean the dress prior to sending it on its way. If you have any unopened makeup, unneeded jewelry, pretty purses, or gently-worn formal shoes, these items are also needed. You can mail them along with your dress donation.
Prepare to feel the joy of giving back! Donate your considerately used prom dress at any time throughout the year. Simply wrap it well, and address any packages you send to the attention of The WGIRLS INC. You can find the address on the website, along with a list of donation centers for those who live in New York City or Long Island. All others are encouraged to mail their donations.
The G.L.A.M. Pledge
In order to continue its important work with underprivileged youth, the WGirls encourage concerned individuals of all ages to take the G.L.A.M. Pledge. By donating as little as five dollars, you can keep their important mission alive and see to it that yet another girl has a chance to go to her prom, rather than sit it out due to her family's financial problems. This G.L.A.M. Pledge reiterates that you are making a difference in the life of a young girl in need.
The Princess Project
The Princess Project has three California locations: San Diego, San Francisco, and the Silicon Valley. It makes sure that thousands of new and nearly new dresses find their way to teens in need each year. The services of the Princess Project are always free to the girls who need them.
How To Donate
Prom dresses in all sizes from 0 to 30 are needed. Both new and gently-used, prom-appropriate dresses are welcomed as long they were made after 2006. Also, leave casual and matronly attire at home. The cut-off date for donations is subject to change, so check the organization's donation guidelines for the most recent information.
Check your dress for signs of irrevocable wear and tear because all clothes should be in good condition. Be sure to dry clean the dress before donation, then turn it in on the hanger.
If you live near San Diego, San Francisco, or the Silicon Valley, you can donate your dress directly to one of the Princess Project's locations. Alternately, you can mail it to a partner of The Princess Project, Weddington Way, which is accepting donations via mail from around the country. The same dress standards apply for mailed donations.
How It Works
Like most organizations that strive to help financially-challenged teen girls go to their prom, the Princess Project does hold an annual give-away event. Unlike most, though, it is also implementing new programs that will connect girls and volunteers throughout the year, instead of just during prom season. Also, during the event season, girls who can get together a group of at least 10 teens who can demonstrate a need for a dress don't have to wait until the one day for dress give-aways. If they enlist the help of an adult chaperone, they can enjoy an appointment for a private boutique night.
Perks For All
The Princess Project strives to increase the self-confidence of young girls no matter what their financial situation may be. Since it began in 2002 with the goal of helping one young girl in need, it has grown to impact the lives of thousands of underprivileged girls every single year. Since it also works with many young volunteers, the group strives to help strengthen the confidence of youth through every aspect of its program.
Priceless Gown Project
Serving underprivileged teen girls in the greater area of Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., the Priceless Gown Project will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2014. This non-profit organization gives free dresses and accessories to area high school girls who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend their junior and senior proms in style. As a leading organization in the area for helping girls' dreams come true, it has received substantial press coverage.
The Priceless Gown Project gratefully accepts help in the form of financial contributions, local volunteer work, and gently used dress donations. The organization accepts stylish dresses that are still in good shape from all over the country. However, they only accept dresses at certain times of the year, so be sure to email the Priceless Gown Project to confirm when donations will next be accepted. Monetary donations are accepted throughout the year, while volunteers are typically needed for the prom boutique days.
How It Works
There is an annual Priceless Prom Boutique that is usually held at a fancy hotel or other nice venue. It is set up to make the girls who are there for prom dresses feel special. Each girl receives her own personal shopper who helps her select a dress that's just right for her size, features, and preferences. With well over a thousand dresses that are typically donated, the girls have a huge selection of dresses to peruse. They are treated with respect and dignity, and they comes out of the experience with an outfit and accessories, when needed, to go to their prom in style.
Sure, donating your prom dress is an altruistic effort that's usually done with no expectation of anything in return, but how fabulous is it that you just may find yourself on the receiving end of some unexpected perks? For starters, over 50 scientific studies have shown that doing good makes the giver happier and increases her overall well-being.
You can enjoy some more practical perks too. If you file your taxes, the value of the dress you donate is tax-deductible. Since some of the organizations that accept donated dresses are sponsored by local and national businesses, you may receive a gift card or other present when you donate the dress as well. That's not to be expected, but it is oftentimes a nice "thank you" for your kindness.
Keep in mind that many teens would not be able to acquire appropriate prom attire without access to donated prom dresses. There's no reason to hang on to prom dresses that you'll never wear again when they could be put to good use. Your closet clutter just might make a teenage girl's prom dreams come true!