Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Call for donated prom gowns for Camden teens

CAMDEN Five years ago, Diane Hines-Cooper, a teacher at Brimm Medical Arts High School, noticed that some female students weren't going to prom because they couldn't afford the dress that goes along with the big dance.

So Hines-Cooper, who is also a seamstress, teamed up with Lourdes Medical Associates/Osborn Family Health Center, a part of the Lourdes Health System, to hold a prom gown drive. It brought in about 40 dresses that first year.

Last year, community members donated 455 clean, wearable gowns or dressy cocktail-length dresses, and organizers are hoping for even more this time around. Prom accessories, including shoes, handbags and jewelry, are also welcome through April 15.

"When parents bring their daughters to choose a gown, they can't believe it's free," said Hines-Cooper. "Some parents are almost in tears. You can see the relief and appreciation in their faces. I always tell my students, you don't live until you learn to give, and this is a great example of how much it means when people can work together to make a difference in the community."

Gowns can be dropped off at 1601 Haddon Ave., Camden, during business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If large groups want to arrange gown pick up they can contact Deborah Bokas at 856-757-3542. Families that get the gowns are free to keep them.

In coming weeks, Camden High School students from across the district will be able to set up times to go to Brimm to choose gowns and have them fitted for free by Hines-Cooper.

"There must be a gazillion gowns out there that people wear one time," said Bokas, director of social services at Lourdes, who co-organized the drive.

- Julia Terruso

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