Giving the Gift of a Dream Night

by Skyler Sklenarik, 2015 (posted 4-1-12)


“Prom is an essential high school experience, and we feel very strongly that no girl should miss it just because she cannot afford a prom dress,” says Ms. Cheryle Podgorski, founder of  “Princess and the Prom”.


It is not rare that girls liken prom to a fairytale, whether it be Beauty and the Beast’s sacred dance or Cinderella’s enchanted ball.  But, as the stories go, princesses never had to face the challenge of finding the perfect dress without completely emptying their bank accounts. Girls are often forced to skip their proms because dresses are unaffordable, but there is a simple solution: others donating old dresses to local projects for girls in need.

Local dress projects usually take place around late March, just in time for prom season, at churches, charities, and drives all around Connecticut. CHS called attention to “Princess & the Prom” last month, an organization started by a mother and daughter in December of 2006. The corporation collected dresses for girls with limited resources March 30, 31, and April 1.

“We have collected over 2,000 dresses and given them to 600 hundred girls every year, so we are pretty successful,” says Ms. Cheryle Podgorski, founder of  “Princess & the Prom”.

Podgorski and her daughter, along with five other mother-daughter teams, have an ultimate goal of making every girl in Connecticut feel like a princess on the night of their prom.

“It’s a really great thing to do to build self-esteem in young women- for them to be able to get a dress and then maybe down the road, turn around and volunteer their own as they get older,” says Podgorski.

Nonetheless, many girls are reluctant to donate their dresses due to their sentimental value. Others may not want to give away something they spent so much money on.

“I would let a girl who needs it borrow it, but I wouldn’t donate it because the dress itself is a memory of my junior prom that I don’t want to give away,” says Shelby LeVasseur, 2012.

While there may be alternative uses to prom dresses, such as shortening them after prom or passing them down to siblings and friends, giving it to someone who cannot afford a dress of their own is enabling them with the opportunity to create significant memories they may not be able to make otherwise.

“Prom is an essential high school experience, and we feel very strongly that no girl should miss it just because she cannot afford a prom dress,” says Podgorski.

Whether it be now or ten years from now, contributing to local projects like “Princess & the Prom” is an easy way to give back. 

Next prom season, remember that there is no consequence for helping others in need, and that little things such as donating an old dress can make a world of difference in another girl’s prom experience.