Eleventh Annual “Belle of the Ball” Prom Dress Collection Drive Underway, Runs Through April 5, 2015
Mar 04, 2015 08:00AM
By Kieran Gilman
TEWSKBURY, Mass. (February 27, 2015) – February’s red carpet televised events and “who are you wearing” fashion coverage can be a painful reminder for high school junior and senior girls that prom season is just a fantasy for families with limited financial resources. High school girls begin to see what’s hot on the red carpet and talk about designer dresses, shoe shopping and one of the biggest social events of the year. The expenses of prom season brings enormous stress on local families, and Caring Partners’ “Belle of the Ball” prom dress drive is back to help high school junior and senior girls who must choose not to attend this major life event due to financial constraints.
On February 2, 2015, Anton’s Cleaners kicked off its 11th annual Belle of the Ball Prom Dress Collection program at all Anton’s Cleaners and Jordan’s Furniture locations. Belle of the Ball distributes cleaned prom dresses at no charge to high school junior and senior girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their school’s prom. The public is invited to help by donating good quality, gently worn or new prom dresses and like-new special occasion purses. These items can be dropped off at any of Anton’s Cleaners 42 locations or Jordan’s Furniture stores through April 5, 2015 (Tewksbury location at 10 Main St., see antons.com and jordans.com for more store locations). Monetary and in-kind donations are also welcome to cover jewelry, makeup and other accessories and prom-related services; visit antons.com/belle.
All dresses are cleaned by Anton’s free of charge as a community service as a program of Caring Partners, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Unlike other prom gown collection drives, this program culminates in a day-long “boutique” where deserving girls are invited for a day of personal shopping and pampering. Last year, over 400 girls participated in Boutique Day hosted by Simmons College, with close to 2,000 dresses in a variety of colors, styles and sizes displayed, all free of charge. To date, more than 2,300 girls have been outfitted since Belle of the Ball began in 2005.
Since attendance to Boutique Day is by “invitation only,” students must be pre-qualified by guidance counselors, teachers and social service agency personnel, who refer high school girls to the program.
“No one should have to skip their prom, a momentous day, because they cannot afford a dress,” said Arthur Anton Jr., COO, Anton’s Cleaners and a founder of Belle of the Ball. “Belle of the Ball allows girls to dream big and feel beautiful with the dress, purse, shoes and makeup. Thanks to generous supporters and customers, hundreds of young women will receive anything they need to feel like a princess the night of the ball.”
Last year, Anton’s Cleaners collected 6,244 dresses as well as thousands of shoes, purses and makeup items from more than 1,000 individuals from local corporations, nonprofits, retailers, media partners and volunteers. Anton’s Cleaners collected and cleaned the donated dresses, with cleaning services exceeding $231,965 in value, bringing the total donated to $1,473,824.
According to Eliot Tatelman, President and CEO of Jordan’s Furniture, “Giving back to the community is a critical part of what our Jordan’s team is all about, and we are proud to work with Caring Partners to help young women feel beautiful on one of their life’s biggest nights. At Jordan’s, we believe in helping children in need and are proud that Caring Partners is one of our key partnership programs.”
Promotional partners on board this year including Jordan’s Furniture, FOX25, The Bull 101.7, Kiss 108 FM, JAM’N 94.5, and Wicked Local.
Similar to Anton’s successful Coats for Kids drive which celebrated its 20th year last year, the collection effort will be coordinated with high schools, colleges, and corporate and community partners. Companies, organizations and schools interested in holding a prom dress collection drive, making an in-kind donation, or individuals looking to volunteer at the boutique can obtain more information at antons.com/belle.
More than a dress collection drive, Belle of the Ball is a powerful personal experience for each young woman who is invited to attend. The referred participants often come from difficult backgrounds, both financially and emotionally. Over the years, participants of Belle of the Ball have reflected that it was a wonderful experience not because of how they looked in their dress, but because of the positive change in the way they felt about themselves.
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