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Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsProm Drive on STX Distributes Over 67 Dresses for Free

Prom Drive on STX Distributes Over 67 Dresses for Free

Bianca Acevedo-Francis has distributed 67 dresses for free to young adults wanting to attend prom, class night, spring ball and other formal events. (Photo courtesy Bianca Acevedo-Francis)

In the fairytale Cinderella, a maiden visits the ball and is dressed up by her fairy godmother. With a swish of a wand, Cinderella is off to the ball and dressed from head to toe. Unfortunately, in the real world, unlike in fictional fairytales, the cost of going to the prom can prove to be very costly.

For one Virgin Islander what began as a yearly help to one lucky high school senior who may not be able to afford to go to prom has turned into something inspiring. Local business owner of Ultra Nutrition in Christiansted town, Bianca Acevedo-Francis has already assisted 67 young adults in granting their wish of attending prom. No stranger to giving back to the community, Acevedo-Francis is clearly on a mission.

“The decision to start a prom dress drive stemmed from recognizing the financial challenges that many students face in preparing for prom,” said Acevedo-Francis.

After speaking to a school counselor from one of the local high schools on St. Croix, Acevedo-Francis quickly realized that there was a need for assistance for a few students. She agreed to accept 20 dresses at her store so that students could stop by and have a selection for no cost. What began as just a small initiative of one high school senior, then agreeing to accept donations for 20 dresses, has now become 137 dresses received and 62 dresses already distributed.

“Prom is a significant event in a young person’s life, often filled with excitement and anticipation. However, the costs associated with purchasing a dress, shoes, accessories, and other necessities can quickly add up, making it inaccessible for some students,” she said.

These dresses were distributed for class night, spring balls, prom, and graduation. In many cases not only dresses were received, but also accessories, clutches, shoes, and some men’s tuxedos. The drive has been such a success that other businesses began offering free makeup and hair to the eventgoers.

Acevedo-Francis credits members of the community who have come together to make the dreams of young adults come true. “By organizing a prom dress drive, I wanted to address this barrier and ensure that every student, regardless of their financial situation, could participate in this special occasion. The drive provides a platform for individuals to donate gently used or new dresses, giving them a second life and offering students options to choose from,” said Acevedo-Francis.

Those who have received gowns can also receive free alterations and dry-cleaned options and are welcome to do so during the Mother’s Day Jump-Up event this Friday in Christiansted town. Acevedo-Francis even has a system for labeling the dresses.  In the event that someone wants their dress back, she will know whose dress belongs to whom upon return.

“These things are near and dear to my heart. I tell my kids all the time that you know you see mommy volunteering all the time. Growing up I didn’t need anything, but I knew friends that struggled, but if I can provide for other kids or help or be a gateway where I can bring the community together to be that village.  That’s my life’s mission,” said Acevedo-Francis.

Anyone who is interested in donating or receiving a prom dress for free can call Acevedo-Francis at 340-201-3293.

Although May 8 is advertised as a cutoff date to give prom participants time to prepare, there is no cutoff date for receiving a dress.

Acevedo-Francis said that she greatly credits the community members like “West Gyul ” who assisted in getting the word out with frequent shares of the flyer. Other members Acevedo-Francis would like to thank are Wilbur Francis, Yamaliz King, Emily Lugo Reyes, Samarie George, Jah-Aisha Williams, Jo-Ann Berry-Edney, Keiki Corlise, Demaris Belardo, Tina Lafond, Melisa Rivera, Yolanda Melendez of Guavaberrykids, Elouise Brown-Moe, Lorna Spogoo Roberts of Blakpine Vintage Boutique, Sanya Yaritza Velazquez, Frangipani Boutique STX, Jareema Perdereaux, John Bermudez, Victoria Hamilton, the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Nu Chi Zeta Chapter, Etta Lee Pickering-Mitchell, Campo Rico Massive (Shyla, Michelle, Riise, and D’Shane), multiple government agencies who helped to drop off dresses, Seaborne Airlines employee, Jasmine Hodge, Dora Burroughs, Cliauniel Mulley and other supporters.

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