April is prom month. If you’re a young lady of modest means you can be the belle of the ball with a free or low-cost designer dress ($10 is low, right?) in beautiful condition from one of the prom dress giveaway programs in New Jersey and around the country. Act soon though. Giveaways are going on right now all over the New York/New Jersey area and in many cities across the country! Some programs provide accessories and shoes to match gowns … and they may share tasty treats and other gifts with “shoppers” and their moms, as well. The idea is, that every young person should have the chance to attend prom dressed fabulously and fashionably, whether they have lots of money or don’t.
There aren’t nearly as many resources for young men looking for a suit or help renting a tux, but that doesn’t mean help is not available! My own son was gifted a free tuxedo rental from Operation Prom, so we know that as of last week, this program was working great (see details below). Post-high school women can find a fancy dress at Catherine’s Closet in Newark, so if you are a woman past high school age, visit there or just ask other giveaway shops if they can help you out. There’s never any harm in asking.
If none of the resources on this page get you the results you need, don’t be discouraged. Keep looking! There are quite a few organizations providing free or low cost prom dresses in New Jersey and around the country. Students, also ask your guidance counsellor if they know of a local program which provides free or low-cost dresses, suits or tuxes, or try reaching out to a church or youth center in your neighborhood. Remember: help is always one ask away. If you spend some time searching the net, you may turn up some good resources (this is how I found most of what’s listed here). And consider enlisting the help of a reference librarian – they are extraordinarily good at this sort of thing and most of them are delighted to assist.
If you’re a person wanting to give away a fancy dress, prom dress, accessories, or you would like to volunteer at a prom giveaway drive, I’m certain any of these organizations would love to hear from you, so just reach out!
NEWARK – Catherine’s Closet, Inc.
Distribution at 550 Broad Street, Newark NJ 973-616-2060
On Two Dates from 8:30am – 12pm (noon)
Saturday, April 13, 2013 and Saturday, May 11, 2013
Cost: $10 for student gowns & $10 dressy dresses for adults – Cash only!
Everyone is welcome, but you must come on one of the distribution dates. No ID required. All proceeds will benefit Catherine’s Closet, Inc. and scholarship funds.
Provided: Designer gowns, accessories and fancy dresses in all sizes by Armani, Jessica Mcclintock, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s
Volunteers needed to sort the collection on Saturday, April 6, 2013 and on both Distribution Dates to be Personal Shoppers. Personal Shoppers, please wear black tops!
PATERSON AREA – Cinderella For A Day prom dress giveaway
Distribution at 105 Church Street, Totowa NJ
Saturday April 20 2013 12pm (noon) – 5pm
No one will be turned down! But students who pre-registered will get first choice.
Provided: In addition to getting a free prom dress, there are also free shoes, jewelry and accessories. There will be music, snacks, games, raffles, crafts, cool make-up tips and on-the-spot hair styling. “It’s set up like a store,” said Petrasek, “with changing stations and different stylists.”
This event is run by Natasha Civil of Bloomfield with support from Team HOPE, the Paterson Free Public Library and other community groups. For more information, feel free to contact Natasha Civil 973-393-7503 email@example.com or Michelle Petrasek 973-321-1223 Petrasek@PatersonPL.org.
TRENTON AREA – The Wish Shop
Distribution: Shop is open April through May 2013, but only Saturdays!
The Wish Shop
228 Scotch Road, Ewing NJ
Open at 10am on Saturdays. No closing time posted, so go early.
Cost: $10 gowns, accessories for $2 each, shoes $5
Or, everything free with a voucher from a community partner agency
You can visit the shop on any Saturday during prom season and buy a gown, accessories and shoes for $25 or less, or contact One Simple Wish at 609-883-8484 or firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a referral to get a voucher so you can have everything for free. I exchanged several emails with One Simple Wish, and still wasn’t able to learn who their community partners are, so I’m thinking that they prefer to have students to contact them individually.
The Wish Shop is the public outlet for One Simple Wish’s Project Prom. The shop offers prom gowns, shoes, jewelry and accessories to hundreds of young women, and the organization tries to connect their teen clientele with hair stylists, make-up artists, crafters, food vendors and others who wish to donate their services to help make prom a fun occasion for all. Most Saturdays when the shop is open, treats like chocolates and pastries are also served to shoppers while they peruse the collection.
Volunteer and Donation Opportunities:
Donate a Dress or Accessories: One Simple Wish collects gently worn dresses, costume jewelry and NEW dress shoes from March 1 – April 30 of each year. To arrange for a drop off or discuss a pick up, please contact the organization at 609-883-8484 or email@example.com. Check the One Simple Wish Meetup Group page for volunteer opportunities.
NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY AREA – Operation Prom
Distribution: April at various locations around the city, in Westchester, Hudson and Dutchess Counties and some New Jersey locations
Register on the website for a free prom dress or to request a free tuxedo rental.
To qualify for a free dress or tuxedo, you must be a student, and be passing your classes (proof may be requested). Donations of dresses or money are gladly accepted.
In New Jersey also check
Locations: Freehold, Hackettstown, Washington Township (in central-west Jersey)
Cinderella’s Closet of Monmouth County – Freehold
Contact: Katie Adams and Stephanie Tomasetta 732-252-8327 firstname.lastname@example.org
And here’s a national directory of prom dress giveaway programs