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Prom Closet moves to new location

The Prom Closet offers a wide variety of used dresses and gowns at a reasonable price so low-income individuals don’t have to miss out on special events and job interviews just because they happen to be wardrobe-challenged. Above, Carrie Stamford shops for a dress to attend a formal. - Kaitlin Srohschein/Staff Photo
The Prom Closet offers a wide variety of used dresses and gowns at a reasonable price so low-income individuals don’t have to miss out on special events and job interviews just because they happen to be wardrobe-challenged. Above, Carrie Stamford shops for a dress to attend a formal.
— image credit: Kaitlin Srohschein/Staff Photo

A group of 18- to 21-year-old students with special needs last month helped transform a basement at South Kitsap Helpline’s headquarters into a dress shop through a community transition program at South Kitsap High School.

“They literally saw a basement room filled with boxes and a mess,” said Laura Lane, a South Kitsap paraeducator who helped oversee the project. “Now, we have kids walk in and say, ‘This looks like a store.’

“They can’t believe the transformation,” she said, “and these kids have done that.”

But this is no ordinary dress shop.

The Prom Closet offers 500 dresses in sizes 0 through 24, in “many colors” and “fun styles,” according to its page on the South Kitsap High School website.

It also offers accessories, shoes, wedding dresses, tuxedos and clothes for an interview.

And they loan them out for free to anyone who wants to borrow them.

“You don’t have to be poor to use our service,” said Lane. “You just have to want to borrow a dress.”

In fact, you don’t even have to be in high school to borrow a dress, she said, adding that it could be a great option for Navy wives who would like to borrow a dress, rather than buying one, for a Navy formal.

Carrie Stamford, a recent high school graduate stopped by The Prom Closet on Wednesday to pick up a dress for a formal she’ll be attending.

“I have a hard time finding a dress that fits me,” said Stamford. “I like that there’s a huge variety here. There’s multiple sizes and multiple choices.”

She eventually decided on a dark red, floor-length halter top, and she says it fits her perfectly.

To “pay” for the dress, she brought a stack of canned goods for South Kitsap Helpline’s food bank.

The Prom Closet accepts donations of dresses, money and food for Helpline.

“We have a few generous people who purchased gowns new to donate,” said Lane.

“If anyone’s looking to donate to a good cause, even if they don’t want to borrow a dress, we’re goign to say thank you very much,” said Robin Christman, a teacher with the Community Transition Program. “The dry cleaning alone is a bill to be reckoned with.”

Each dress is dry cleaned before it’s lent out, and The Prom Closet hosts fundraisers to cover dry cleaning expenses.

Dry cleaning scholarships are also available through South Kitsap Food Helpline.

South Park Cleaners cleans the dresses for $8 each, down from around $18, normally.

The Prom Closet hopes The Home Depot will write a grant for new flooring for the boutique.

Meanwhile, in early September, orgznizers hope to host a grand re-opening.

The move to the South Kitsap Food Helpline basement will be the third for the Prom Closet.

It started in a thrift store, moved to a classroom at South Kitsap High School before transferring to the South Kitsap Helpline basement.

Throughout that time, students with the Community Transition Program have helped staff it.

“The whole process has helped not only the community, but also our classroom,” Diane Potts, a paraeducator who helps run the store, adding that it’s been given a real self-confidence boost to many of the student employees.


 

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