Saying yes to dress donations

At their best, school formals can be like something out of a fairy tale. Until the bills arrive, that is.

Saint Joseph High senior Katie McKeon hopes to remove cost as an obstacle for high school girls attending the senior prom. McKeon, 18, said the cost of a dress alone can easily top $400, and that is before the cost of shoes, accessories, hair and makeup are factored in. Toward that end, she unveiled a prom dress exchange Friday at the school. The dress exchange is part of St. Joseph’s Giving Week.

“I wanted to give everyone a chance to have a great evening in a beautiful dress,” she said. “There are so many dresses out there, and so many of these events. There are people who can’t go to their prom because of the cost, and others who have gently used dresses that are gathering dust in their closet.”

McKeon, a Shelton resident, said her first experience with the cost of school dances was in eighth grade, when some girls in her class could not attend a spring formal because of the cost.

“If they can’t afford an eighth grade dance, they definitely can’t go to prom,” she said.

At St. Joseph, each year brings another round of expensive formal-wear.

“We have the sophomore Spring Fling, the Junior Ring Dance, Senior Prom,” she said.

In addition to dresses, McKeon said she has been contacting local salons about helping with some of the other expenses.

“Nails, flowers, the idea is to have everyone pitch in,” she said.

The response so far has been gratifying, she said.

“I’ve tried to keep it hush-hush before the unveiling (Friday),” she said. “But everyone seems really excited.”

The school is assisting with the project, too. People can drop off dresses at St. Joseph’s main office during normal school hours.

“We’ll be collecting through January, and we plan to give them out in January and February,” McKeon said.

While she does not have a goal in mind for the total number of dresses to collect or distribute, McKeon said the more people donate, the more high school girls can enjoy a worry-free special night.

“I just want girls to be able to go to their prom, and feel great, and have a great night and not have to worry about expenses,” she said.