MERIDEN – For the third year in a row the Prom Angels were there to help those in need with prom 2017 right around the corner.
The group of angels is led by Melissa Kasperzyk of Meriden and on Sunday they were at the Women’s and Families Center handing out prom dresses for free, along with local stores offering discounts to help them get ready for prom.
“For the past three years we have collected prom dresses, new and gently used, and we give them away for free to girls,” Kasperzyk said. “We have nail technicians, hair salons, a makeup artist who we partner with, and they offer discounts on their services. Husky Cleaners, from North Haven, is offering free dry-cleaning for all the dresses.
“Each girl gets a swag bag, discounts coupons, product sample from local businesses,” she added.
This year 65 girls attended and 60 of them went home with dresses.
Girls and their parents, from all around the state – Colchester, East Hartford, Burlington, East Haven, West Hartford, Meriden and other towns – were at the center checking out the over 500 dresses gently used and brand-new dresses before choosing the one they wanted.
“We do it because we just want to help out the girls. We know single moms, single dads, girls in foster care, or low income,” she said. “Parents just need some help this time of year especially senior year is very expensive.”
For Kasperzyk, her childhood inspired her to get start this tradition.
“I grew up with a mom who worked really hard with four kids and sent us all to everything at school – proms and all the above and it’s all expensive,” she said. “I know what it is alike to not be able to afford things like this. So me and my girlfriends decided to start collecting dresses.”
During the first year Kasperzyk gave away her own prom dress.
“They pick out a dress, if they like it they take it,” she said.
Kasperzyk said she and her friends work all year, collecting donations and dresses but Wallingford’s Dynamite Designs by Kristen really has stepped up and helped them out.
“The past two years they have donated a huge surplus,” Kasperzyk said. “She (owner Kristen Langan) just gives them to us, no questions asked. Just gave to them to us, a lot of them are brand-new with tags.”
With the girls leaving with dresses they will be wearing to their proms it’s not how pretty the dress is that stands out to Kasperzyk. It’s the smiles.
“They’re just so happy they can get to experience their proms,” she said. “Prom is very important. It’s a life experience that I think every girl should get the opportunity to participate in. We take that financial burden away from them.”