MERIDEN — Prom Angels will expand their annual prom giveaway into a three-day event this year in April, where students can grab a free prom dress and get lots of swag items from area businesses.
“Right now, we have hundreds of gowns available already,” said Melissa Kasperzyk, organizer of Prom Angels. The Dressing Room and Dynamite Designs, both in Wallingford, donated dresses. “Last week we picked up four boxes from Dynamite Designs. There were probably 10 dresses in each box.”
Prom Angels is collecting new and gently used prom dresses and accessories until the end of February. The dresses are put away inside a storage room at the Meriden Health Department.
The students don’t only get prom dresses and shoes, but also swag bags. “So at each event, when the girls leave, they leave with swag bags filled with cosmetics samples, prom essentials, gift certificates, things like that,” she said.
Donations for the swag bag are given by the community. According to Kasperzyk, Target in Meriden has been a huge contributor to their swag bags. “They've given us hundreds. I couldn't even give a number,” she said. “But I mean everything one can imagine like dry shampoo, hair, makeup, perfume, anything that’s in the Target cosmetics section.”
This year, Salon Nathaniel in Meriden, donated 10 gift certificates worth $100 each toward hair services for prom. “Another girl from Meriden who does eyelashes and waxing, donated 10 free eyelash and waxing applications for the girls for prom,” Kasperzyk said. “So what I like to do is reach out to other local businesses and local stylists and get them involved.”
Prom Angels started back in 2015 when Kasperzyk and her friends decided to give out their own prom dresses. Then, she hit up social media and made a Facebook page. By the end of January 2016, their Facebook page had over 100 followers and the community started asking how they could donate their own dresses.
“When this happened, I wondered how we could turn this into something,” Kasperzyk said.
Kasperzyk, a 2005 graduate in hairdressing from H.C. Wilcox Technical High School, she remembers prom being expensive. “I’m pretty sure my mother had to choose between paying a bill and buying my prom dress,” she said. “This is partly why I started this and continue to do this. I don’t want parents to have to choose between those two things and I want students to have the opportunity to get a dress and their hair and makeup done.”
Marisol Cruz, Prom Angels administrator, says that she remembers having to work part time in order to pay for her prom dress. Cruz joined Prom Angels in 2017 and has been with the team for six years.
Cruz also goes to the Meriden schools to inform students about Prom Angels. “ I go to see if we could get some ambassadors to volunteer or see if people need prom dresses,” she said.
On Feb. 23, Cruz will be at Platt High School during the lunch waves and on March 2, she will be at Wilcox Technical High School.
The giveaway event will take place April 4-6 from 2-7 p.m. in the Teen Room at the Health & Human Services Department, 165 Miller St. To sign up for the event, visit https://www.promangelsct.com/. Deadline to sign up is March 31.