2014 Season News


Newsletter_Aug2014 (1)

NOTE: SEPTEMBER 9th is a Tuesday evening event (Please excuse our mistake of stating Thursday)

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Free-Prom-Dress-Giveaway-in-San-Diego/248560811
Coles Fine Flooring Dress Drive Video: 

Princess Project Needs Dress Donations

January 21,2014: NBC 7’s Whitney Southwick speaks with Jennifer Gaston of The Princess Project, a non-profit that helps every teen attend their prom with style, confidence and a beautiful dress. With prom just a few months away, the organization is collecting dress donations through this month. Find out how to help by visiting The Princess Project website

Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Princess-Project-Needs-Dress-Donations/241344401#ixzz2r4WVtH54

Princess Project seeks prom dresses for low-income teens
January is crunch time to get gowns donated
By Caroline Dipping7:27 a.m.Jan. 15, 2014
Jennifer Gaston, chairwoman of The Princess Project San Diego, and volunteer Oshea Piscopo of Chula Vista load a moving truck with prom dresses and other formal gowns to transport to an empty storefront inside Horton Plaza Saturday. Misael Virgen
Jennifer Gaston, chairwoman of The Princess Project San Diego, and volunteer Oshea Piscopo of Chula Vista load a moving truck with prom dresses and other formal gowns to transport to an empty storefront inside Horton Plaza Saturday. Misael Virgen 

Prom season is months away, but right now, Jennifer Gaston has got strapless bodices, floor-length hemlines, and satin and sequins on the brain. For the chairwoman of The Princess Project San Diego, this month is all about saying “Yes” to the dress.

Maybe even yours.

Through January, Gaston and a legion of community partners are accepting gently used formal dresses of the prom, cocktail, bridesmaid and quinceañera variety. Donations of jewelry, purses, evening wraps and other accessories will also gratefully be accepted.

In March, The Princess Project will distribute the finery to high school girls from low-income families who could not afford to buy a dress for their prom. The dress giveaways will be held at a storefront in San Diego’s Horton Plaza, the Vista Library, the El Cajon Library and, for the very first time, the South Chula Vista Library.

“It’s a big deal,” Gaston said. “So often, it’s the difference between being able to go to prom and not being able to go to prom.

“We really do promote self esteem and inner beauty,” she added. “We make it really special for these girls. It’s not just that we are giving away prom dresses and earrings. We are giving them a chance to feel beautiful.”

This is the sixth year The Princess Project has been ensuring financially challenged girls don’t miss out on this teen rite of passage. There is no stringent application process for a girl to get a dress, but typically they are referred by foster homes, homeless shelters, boys and girls clubs, school counselors and charitable foundations.

Last year, the nonprofit outfitted more than 1,000 girls for prom. The goal for this year’s dress drive is loftier than a tulle skirt: the nonprofit hopes to receive more than 3,000 dresses to serve 1,200 girls. This would provide an ample selection for the teens to choose from and a good head start on building next year’s inventory.

Nationwide, the average cost of going to prom last year was $1,139, according to Visa. Gaston said a prom gown represents a hefty piece of that price tag and can cost upward of $350.

About 40 percent of the girls served by The Princess Project come from South County, Gaston said. That is why she reached out to Joy Whatley, the senior librarian at the South Chula Vista Library to participate in this year’s dress drive and giveaway.

“The South Chula Vista Library is dead center in an area of tremendous need,” Gaston said. “They are thinking of hosting two full days (to give away dresses) because the need is so great and so many girls come from around there.”

Whatley is an enthusiastic cheerleader for The Princess Project and took Gaston’s request one better. She has decided to turn a couple of meeting rooms at the library into boutiques so girls who live in the area can come in by appointment and comb through the racks for the perfect dress.

She is in the process of marshaling volunteers for the events from such groups as Altrusa International of Chula Vista and the city of Chula Vista’s Youth Action Council. The council’s teen members will be particularly useful in helping their peers select a stylish prom dress in what will be “definitely a Cinderella moment,” she said.

Whatley has cast her net for dresses, too, and has already received nearly a dozen dresses so far this month. She has hung two of the dresses in her office to inspire her to seek more donations.

“They are gorgeous,” she said. “One is a beautiful shade of red and another is sky blue and white. I’m sure they were worn once and never worn again. They look pristine.”

The Princess Project is powered completely by volunteers (200 and counting) and has an annual operating budget of about $14,000 which comes from donations and a fundraising dress design competition held in partnership with the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Most of the funds go toward the purchase of accessories and petite and plus-size gowns, which aren’t donated as much as other dresses, as well as utilities, storage and truck rental to transport the gowns from collection sites to giveaway locations.

Gaston said one of her favorite moments during a dress giveaway is watching the change that occurs in a tom boy who comes in with no idea what she wants, let alone what her dress size is.

“They only know skinny jeans and a hoodie,” she said. “They walk in with their head down and their shoulders at their waist and my personal shoppers (volunteers) will make them over and encourage them and get some pretty dresses on them, and all of sudden, they are standing up straight and their mothers are crying at such a remarkable transformation.”

© Copyright 2014 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company. All rights reserved.

Princess Project In San Diego Accepting Donated Prom Dresses In January

Sequoia Booker finds a prom dress at the Princess Project location in Horton Plaza in May 2013.

Photo by Katie Schoolov / KPBS

Above: Sequoia Booker finds a prom dress at the Princess Project location in Horton Plaza in May 2013.

Monday, January 6, 2014

By Claire Trageser

Listen to the aired story: http://www.kpbs.org/audioclips/20926/

Princess Project in San Diego Accepting Donated Prom Dresses In January

Aired 1/6/14

Throughout January, the nonprofit The Princess Project is collecting gently used prom dresses and evening gowns to distribute to high school girls from low-income families in San Diego.

Throughout January, The Princess Project is collecting gently used prom dresses and evening gowns to distribute to high school girls from low-income families.

This will be the sixth year the nonprofit collects and distributes dresses in San Diego.

Anyone with used formal dresses or accessories like jewelry, purses, shawls and shoes can drop them off at more than 20 locations throughout San Diego County.

While donating prom dresses might seem frivolous, Jennifer Gaston, the chair of The Princess Project’s San Diego chapter, said it means a lot to the girls who receive the items.

“I think once they have a dress and they really feel beautiful and they feel more like a woman, then you see them stand up straighter and pull their shoulders back and really sink in to, ‘Yeah, I am beautiful, and yeah, I am growing up,'” she said.

The average cost a high schooler spent on prom last year was $1,139, according to the research company Gfk, and a big chunk of that cost goes toward dresses. If girls receive a free dress, they get a confidence boost and don’t have to skip an important coming-of-age ritual, Gaston said.

Girls don’t have to prove they come from low-income families to get a dress, but they’re referred usually by foster homes, homeless shelters, teachers, or guidance counselors.

The donated dresses will be sorted and displayed so high school girls can browse through them and find the right dress.

Last year, more than 1,000 dresses were given away.