Donations of Gowns, Accessories encouraged from 10a.m.-2 p.m.
Kenmore, NY (March 12, 2019)—The Colvin Cleaners Gowns for Prom program, presented by the Allstate Foundation and supported by Reeds Jenss, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Townsquare Media, has a mission to ensure the 14th annual program provides every young lady in Western New York, who otherwise could not afford one, a perfectly altered and dry cleaned gown for her upcoming high school prom.
A “Gowns Drive” will be held on Saturday, March 16 with donations accepted from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Reeds Jenss at 4001 Maple Road, Amherst, 14226 and 3515 Abbott Road, Orchard Park, 14127. Colvin Cleaners President Paul A. Billoni said those donating will not have to exit their vehicle as volunteers will gladly receive the new or gently used formal gowns of any size, shoes and purses. In exchange, donors will receive a $10 gift card from Colvin Cleaners.
“We are so grateful to Jeff Zimmer, owner of Reeds Jenss, a long-time supporter of our Gowns for Prom and Coats 4 Kids programs for hosting this “GOWNS DRIVE” on Saturday. We encourage everyone to go through their closets to find gowns they will no longer use and drop them off Saturday at the two participating Reeds Jenss locations,” said Billoni, president of the 88 years young family dry cleaners.
Reeds Jenss has Colvin Cleaners wrapped barrels inside their stores for the year round collection of gowns, coats and accessories for both programs. Year round collections are also taking place at Colvin Cleaners, 2375 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore; 40 Allstate Insurance Agencies throughout Western New York; six Erie County Department of Motor Vehicles offices and inside Native Price Truck Plaza and Restaurant, 11359 Southwestern Blvd. in Irving.
Colvin Cleaners is in communication with nearly 90 high schools throughout Erie County and as far away as Batavia, Jamestown and Niagara County. The steady calls from young ladies and schools scheduling times to select a gown has led Colvin Cleaners to seek more donations, especially a big need for plus sized gowns, sizes 20 and up. Schools are encouraged to bring students, possibly in a bus, so they are together selecting gowns and avoiding similar colors and styles.
SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS ARE SO APPRECIATIVE OF THE PROGRAM
One of the participating schools is the Western New York Maritime Charter School, which annually brings students to Shea’s to select gowns for its Military Ball.
“The Colvin Cleaners Gowns for Prom program has been such a blessing to our girls!” says Florence Dollard, the school youth counselor at Maritime Charter School. “Each year, I have students who are offered donated tickets to our Military Ball, but as appreciative as they are, they say they are unable to go because of the cost of a gown. Gowns for Prom to the rescue! When I explain they can select a gown from the spectacular array of colors, styles and sizes for free, their faces light up!
“Our trip to Shea’s (we walk together from school) is a grand adventure! The girls are overwhelmed when they see racks and racks of beautiful gowns. They help each other select just the right one that will make each girl’s evening magical. Truly, they appreciate the kindness and helpfulness of the volunteers...from the seamstresses making alterations on their chosen gown to the women who take the time to help them choose their accessories. Some believe it is too good to be true that the wonderful people at Colvin Cleaners will alter, clean and press their selected gowns and deliver them to the school in time for their special day,” Dollard continues.
“The people who make Gowns for Prom happen make each girls’ magical high school moment when these young ladies arrive at the Military Ball and uniquely sparkle like princesses!,” she adds.
Paloma Rodriguez, a senior at Maritime Charter School, who will be attending her fourth Military Ball this spring, explains, “Gowns for Prom means a lot to me because I have seen and experienced its magic. Everytime I have been at Shea’s for Gowns for Prom, I have found "THE dress" for me. They truly make dreams come true!”
The donated gowns are sorted by size and transported to Shea’s Performing Arts Center for selection on April 16, 17 and 18 from 3-8:00 p.m. For each of the three days, Colvin Cleaners will have racks of thousands of new and donated gowns arranged on stage by size. The high school students select a gown and then are fitted upstairs in the stars’ dressing rooms by professional seamstresses. The gown is then altered, dry cleaned, packaged and delivered for free by Colvin Cleaners to the young ladies’ school in time for the prom.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Shea’s, a world-class historic theatre donating its stage and three floors of dressing rooms for three consecutive nights for 14 straight years,” Billoni explains.
“Working with Michael Murphy and the outstanding staff at Shea’s has been exceptional. The opportunity they are giving these young ladies to experience what it is like to be a star just adds to the luster of Gowns for Prom.”
“We are so grateful for everyone who donates gowns to this program because the smiles on the faces of these young high school students, who otherwise could not have afforded a prom gown, is priceless,” says Christopher A. Billoni, Vice President of Colvin Cleaners.
Volunteers, aged 18 and over, unless accompanied by a parent, are needed at Shea’s in the distribution and restocking of gowns and monitoring of the dressing rooms. Seamstresses and tailors to assist at Shea’s with alterations of the gowns, are also needed. For more information, or if you know of a young lady in need of a prom gown, visit www.gownsforprom.com. Gowns for Prom is a 501c3 under the Goodwill Industries of Western New York.