The average American family spends about $919 on its prom-goers, according to a Visa survey. The average cost of the dress alone: $100 to $600.
To help teens and their families with some of those costs, the Suffolk County Association of Women Police is hosting its third annual Prom Impact Project, which accepts new or gently used prom dresses, suits, shoes and accessories for students in need.
Suffolk County PD Fifth Precinct police officer Eileen Emiddio and Fourth Precinct police officer Dana Deshler started the initiative after meeting NYPD Detective Tanya Duhaney of the 112th Precinct in Queens a few years back. Duhaney had organized a similar event for her district and suggested they bring it to Suffolk County.
“The project promotes self-confidence, independence and a feeling of individuality by providing dresses, suits, shoes and accessories,” Deshler explained. “Many teens and their families fear not being able to find and afford prom attire. Prom Impact hopes to give our prom-goers a peace of mind when it comes to this milestone.”
Since then the duo has held the event twice before, once at the Knights of Columbus in Patchogue and again in Brentwood. Last year they served about 200 students from districts as far as Queens and including Islip and Huntington Station, and gave away about 500 dresses, tuxedos and suits altogether.
This year the event will be held again at the Suffolk County Police Academy, at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood (1001 Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood) on Saturday, March 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The hardest part: getting the kids to the event. Deshler suggested those interested in mentoring a kid or helping out should offer rides.
“It’s a great day to be a mentor,” she said, explaining that it’s hard for the kids in need to get to the location. “A lot of people do similar events, but our event is on a different scale. It really is an event to be seen, and we encourage all these young people to take advantage of it.”
In addition to a free shopping experience, the event also includes a runway, locker “dressing rooms” and a live DJ. Most items are gently used and even brand-new. All you need to attend is a school ID.
“Everyone is welcome,” Deshler promised.
In addition to dresses, suits, shoes and handbags, items from local businesses including makeup, corsages and haircuts are also welcome. Thus far, about 500 dresses have already been collected, though the goal is to reach 1,000.
“We are really looking for quality over quantity,” said Deshler, explaining that the idea is to make teens’ prom dreams come true.
Items will be accepted at all SCPD precincts through March 20, but for larger donations, please contact Eileen Emiddio at 631-854-8500 or Dana Deshler at 631-854-8400 or email them at Eileenamccavanagh@yahoo.com or Dana.Deshler@suffolkcountyNY.gov. All donations are tax-deductible.