Volunteers help more girls attend high school proms
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – For several years, hundreds of girls attended their high school prom properly dressed in an outfit they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. They received the gown and accessories free of charge at an annual event, which was originally organized by faculty members of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRHS). The tradition will continue Saturday, March 2, at AVRTHS as the Metrowest Princess Boutique is hosted for the third year by the Marlborough Junior Woman’s Club (MJWC).
Over 100 volunteers are happy to assist that day, said MJWC President Theresa Frias.
“We’re a group of women and we remember how important our own prom was to us,” she said. “In high school, the prom is a big deal and we want everyone to feel a part of their social group. One of our members said she didn’t go to her prom, and she’s going to buy and donate a dress to help a girl realize her importance.”
Planning for the upcoming boutique began soon after volunteers packed and stored last year’s remaining outfits.
“Each year, we try to take in as many new gowns as go out,” Frias said. “We weed through the racks and if it’s no longer a fashionable dress, then we donate it to drama clubs or the Arts Alliance, so they can use it for productions with a dated style.”
Some of the donated gowns are gently used, many worn only once. While all the costs of the event are covered by the club’s ongoing fundraisers, the full amount of monetary donations for the boutique goes to purchasing new outfits, Frias noted.
“We have members who are coordinating with bridal boutiques to buy their last season’s dresses at a discounted rate,” she explained. “We’ve also purchased some dresses at an outlet store. I was able to get a prom dress for $7, so I bought about 15 of them – all with the store tags still on them.”
Club members begin setting up in the school gym that day at 7 a.m. Girls begin arriving at 9 a.m. and are paired with a personal shopper.
“We give them about an hour,” Frias said. “Within that hour, they need to find a dress, then they go to shoes, makeup and jewelry. If they need alterations done – if a strap or hem needs to be adjusted – we try to get it done right there, or we tag it with all the information and we deliver it to their school once it’s done.”
The girls receive advice from a Mary Kay consultant and can get two makeup items. They can also have a set of earrings, a necklace and a bracelet.
New this year, an Amazon.com wish list has been posted on the club’s website, which requests donations of the most needed items: shoes, strapless bras, and plus-size dresses.
Up to 250 girls can be accommodated to choose from about 2,500 gowns. Preregistration is required. MJWC corresponds with guidance offices at high schools from Framingham to Worcester and surrounding communities. Girls interested in participating should check with their guidance office to see if appointments have been reserved. If not, their guidance office can contact MJWC via its website.
Frias recalled a particularly memorable visitor to the boutique.
“We had a blind girl come in last year and she went through, touching everything,” she said. “She had her dress, jewelry and shoes – everything she needed. We asked how she felt about the day, and her response was, ‘I feel beautiful.’ For someone who can’t see to recognize beauty is my favorite memory.”
For information, visit MarlboroughJuniors.org and MWPrincessBoutique.com.
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