HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (WTXF) - It's almost that time of year for students as prom and formal season is just around the corner. It can get pricey, as many know.
Some families can't afford dresses that cost several hundred dollars.
But, there is a program making sure cost isn't an issue, so young girls can have a night to remember, for goodness' sake.
"We were in for a shock. Every dress was 350 bucks or 400 and that's just the dress? Just the dress," said mom Somia.
The program is in an elected official's off and the office is turned into a boutique. Parents can get everything they need for their kids' formals and proms and they can get it for free.
"We are kicking off the seventh anniversary of the Princess Prom program which we started to help provide free dresses, purses, shoes to youth girls anywhere from middle school formals up to their senior prom," said Elizabeth Myers, Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D) N.J.
This free boutique is set up in Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo's office. Staff help the young ladies shop.
"Great dresses, right? Yes, amazing and saving money!" exclaims dad Norman.
Nicole and Norman came in after work with their two daughters and two friends. Like most parents, they want to make their daughters happy, but like so many hardworking parents, they know these events can be shockingly expensive.
"It can be over 500 dollars by the time you get shoes and a dress and accessories and things like that. Then you've got multiple kids and it gets worse," mom Nicole said.
Dresses are anywhere from $200 to $500. Shoes are $50, $60 or $70. The girls have to get their hair done and their makeup done. Right away, a parent or a teen could be spending $1000 and they still have to buy tickets to the event.
"This is supposed to be their last hurrah and you want to kind of indulge, but especially in these times that cost is a little hard to justify," Somia said.
Parents expressed gratitude, teens left smiling. And, then as a local girls club counselor brought in some of the girls she works with. The impact of the free boutique became even deeper.
"It's great. I never had that opportunity. I can relate to them a lot. I couldn't afford a dress. I never went to my prom," said Elissa Gonzalez, of the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County.
This program is giving some much needed relief and, as corny as it sounds, allowing teens of all backgrounds to feel something that may be unusual for some.
"They'll feel like princesses for once," Elissa said.
And, if a free dress and accessories can do that, then job well done to all who participate. For goodness' sake.
For more information on the Princess Prom program, click here.