As the impending prom season draws closer, students who may be strapped for cash will have an opportunity to receive their very own dresses at no cost.
This is because the sixth annual Chautauqua Striders prom dress giveaway will take place from 3-5 p.m. at the Jamestown High School's old gymnasium Thursday.
Thanks to the generosity of community members and businesses, more than 150 prom dresses of different lengths, sizes and colors have been donated to the cause.
Lorraine Walker, mentoring coordinator at Chautauqua Striders, poses in front of several newly donated prom dresses. The dresses were donated for the sixth annual prom dress giveaway, sponsored by Chautauqua Striders, which will take place at Jamestown High School on Thursday.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
According to Lorraine Walker, mentoring coordinator at Chautauqua Striders, the event is intended to provide a completely free shopping experience for area girls in need.
"What we're really interested in is making sure that we have dresses for students that need some help in getting a dress for a very special occasion," she said. "Whether it's for prom or some other type of event that they need a nice dress for, they're more than welcome to come and look, and make it a fun couple of hours of shopping for them."
Flyers for the event were sent to several school districts, including Frewsburg, Falconer, Southwestern, Chautauqua Lake and Jamestown. Students are encouraged to bring family members and friends along. To project the appearance of an actual shopping experience, the event will display the dresses, arranged by size, and will include fitting rooms.
"It's essentially like going to a store, and selecting a couple of dresses to try out, and choosing one. The only difference is that you walk out without having paid anything. And they really are beautiful dresses," said Walker.
According to Walker, Striders has received approximately 125 newly donated dresses, in addition to those remaining from last year's giveaway, which saw approximately 120 girls walk away with a dress. Despite having no yearly goals for the number of dresses donated to the giveaway, the number continues to grow each year.
"It's just such a great city that we live in because people know that there's a need and they're happy to fill that need," said Walker. "And some of the dresses that are coming in are brand new dresses that have tags on them still, and dresses that have been worn and have already been dry-cleaned."
Walker said Chautauqua Striders has partnered with Esquire Cleaners to provide a free dry-cleaning service for dresses that need it. Dresses that are left over from the event are maintained throughout the year by Sharon Matson, JHS transition team high school APP, and stored in closets located at Jamestown High School and Chautauqua Striders - which have been filling up due to the large amount of donations.
Chautauqua Striders will be continuing to accept donations up through the day of the event.