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Southtowns community works together to send girls to prom in style

Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon
HAMBURG — In need of a formal dress to wear for the prom or other occasion, but do not have the funding available for a large purchase?

Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon has taken this need to heart, and has kicked off the fifth annual Prom Dress Drive in Western New York.

Dixon explained that, when she first took office, “I wanted to do some community projects that had nothing to do with politics, to give back to the community.”

She met with the Eden Boys & Girls Club, to discuss helping out the young people of the community. “I am always looking for ideas,” she said.

Together, she and the Boys & Girls Club organizers came up with the idea for the Prom Dress Drive. Dixon explained that endeavors such as this often take place in the more urban parts of the county, but “it’s often a challenge for people in the Southtowns to take advantage of those programs. There’s a need here.”

Dixon explained that the Prom Dress Drive is dear to her heart because she takes seriously the reality that the cost to purchase new formal dresses increases, each year; she said that she would like to help alleviate that strain on local girls.

“It’s not limited to just people in the Southtowns,” she clarified. “It is open to everybody. I wanted to have it here, to make it easily accessible.”

Dixon is once again partnering with Urban Valet Dry Cleaners, which has pledged to professionally clean each donated dress, at one of its three area locations.

The community can get involved in this endeavor by donating new or gently-used gowns at any of the many donation locations in the Southtowns, including:

– Blasdell Village Hall, located at 121 Miriam Ave. in Blasdell.

– Boston Free Library, located at 9475 Boston State Road in Boston.

– Dudley Branch Library, located at 2010 S. Park Ave. in Buffalo.

– Eden Boys & Girls Club, located at 8284 N. Main St. in Eden.

– Erie County Legislature, located on the fourth floor of 92 Franklin St. in Buffalo.

– Hamburg Village Hall, located at 100 Main St. in Hamburg.

– Lackawanna Public Library, located at 560 Ridge Road in Lackawanna.

– Lake Shore Boys & Girls Club, located at 42 Sunset Blvd. in Angola.

– Lake Shore Branch Library, located at S. 4857 Lake Shore Road in Hamburg.

– Urban Valet Cleaners at 106 Evans St. in Hamburg, 4081 N. Buffalo Road in Orchard Park and 620 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo.

Dixon said that she is encouraged by the individuals who get involved and who donate dresses, and was excited to see that some gowns had already been dropped off on Feb. 24, the first day of the drive. Dresses will be accepted at all donation sites until March 21. Dixon or another volunteer will pick up the gowns periodically and bring them to Urban Valet, to be cleaned.

The legislator invited those who need a dress for the prom or other special event to participate in a free “shopping” event to pick out a dress. The shopping days will be held from 3 – 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 and noon – 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 6 at Performing Arts Dance Academy in Hamburg, which also hosted last year’s shopping event.

The academy will feature dressing rooms, racks provided by Speier Displays & party Rentals, and lots of mirrors, so attendees can find the dress that best meets their needs.

“I get photos sent to me of girls in their dresses on prom night,” Dixon said. “It becomes a really fun day out for people; they come with their parents and friends and have a great time.”

She encouraged those needing gowns, regardless of their age, to take advantage of the dress drive. “I hope people know there’s no stigma to this,” she said. “It makes good economic sense. The idea of reuse takes on so many different meanings. These gowns were used for only a few hours and then packed away.”

Dixon said that approximately 400 dresses were donated, last year, and that she is hoping to match that number with this year’s drive. She added that she is encouraged by the support of local individuals.

“I love the community I live in,” Dixon said. “I love to find ways to help and give back. And it’s so rewarding to see the girls come in and see their enthusiasm. When they find the right dress, it’s special for everybody involved.”

She also thanked Urban Valet for continuing to support the Prom Dress Drive. “It’s a lot of work,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. They are very civic-minded and are a huge part of this. I couldn’t do it without them.”

The legislator said that her daughters, Erin and Caroline, love to help with the drive; her 7-year-old has a special dress that she wears every year, for the occasion.

Dixon herself has even taken part in the festivities and has tried on some of the dresses. “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “We get so many beautiful dresses that I know girls will be proud to wear.”

For more information about the Prom Dress Drive, contact Dixon at 858-8671 or lynne.dixon@erie.gov.
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