, Newburyport, MA

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April 4, 2014

Fashioning a solution

Salvation Army's Prom Spectacular offers free dresses, advice


Brunelle has sent fliers to local schools to advertise the Prom Spectacular, including Newburyport High School and Triton Regional High School in Byfield. Triton Principal Kathryn Dawe was pleased to hear that students have a local way to lighten the burden of prom preparation.

“Some of the dresses can go anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on the financial situation,” Dawe said, noting that there are few rental options for dresses. “I think that’s an extraordinary amount of money to pay for a dress and shoes and all the other things. It gets pretty expensive.”

Dawe’s students have felt the financial squeeze, with some approaching the administration for assistance with celebrating prom on a budget. Triton, she says, does what it can on its own to help these students pay for tickets.

“It doesn’t happen in a whole lot of situations, but we certainly want students to have the full experience of being with their class and being able to participate,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Brunelle has offered an out for financially strapped prom-goers: Seven years ago, in a previous posting in Milford, she used the local newspaper to solicit donations to a program she called “Kate’s Closet,” named after her sister, who helped fund the project. That inaugural project consisted simply of tables laden with prom dresses.

“I know it’s a need because there’s not many organizations that do this,” Brunelle said. “I know how much it cost me and what a burden it was to us. ... I can imagine there are some people that don’t go because of the money, so I’ll serve as many people as will come.”

Michael’s Harborside has joined the effort, setting up its own drop box to receive donations outside The Salvation Army’s hours, according to Lisa Wettencamp of Newburyport Development, which owns the restaurant. Michael’s Harborside regularly collaborates with The Salvation Army to provide community dinners and other support.

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