Junior Paige Swartz is organizing prom dress drive

Junior+Paige+Swartz+shows+off+some+of+the+dresses+she%E2%80%99s+collected+as+part+of+her+senior+project.

Zaynab Zlitni

Junior Paige Swartz shows off some of the dresses she’s collected as part of her senior project.

Zaynab Zlitni, Features Writer

From getting a date to dancing with your friends, Prom is a fun and enjoyable time for upperclassmen. But it’s often a time of unseen financial stress for families. Prom dresses, on average, cost anywhere from $100 to $600, which some families just can’t afford.

Junior Paige Swartz is working to solve that problem through her senior project. She’s collecting donated prom dresses and giving them away for free on March 14 in the BSHS commons.

“My freshman and sophomore year my parents were like, ‘We’re not buying a $400 dress every year,’ so I was like, a dress drive would be perfect for anyone who is in the same situation I was and even for people who are in a worse situation,” she said.

Swartz has been collecting dresses for about a month, announcing it on different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She’s already collected anywhere from 200 to 250 dresses.

“When you reach out into the community, most times people are able to help.”

— Paige Swartz

“I talked to Mrs. Baker [the senior project coordinator] about it first to make sure that my idea was going to work, and then I reached out to Mrs. Stricherz, the prom sponsor. She’s my official mentor because she has so much experience with Prom,” she said.

Unlike most of her classmates, Swartz is graduating a semester early, so she’s required to complete her senior project during her junior year.

“I’m giving away all types of dresses,” Swartz said. “I asked for formal dresses, but I’ve gotten a combination of short dresses, long dresses, bridesmaid dresses and stuff of that sort.”

So far, Swartz has received an overwhelming amount of donations and continues to receive more as Prom quickly approaches.

“When you reach out into the community, most times people are able to help,” Swartz said. “Currently, my basement is full of dresses and dress racks, and I might have to move some of the dresses to my grandparent’s basement, but they’re all in mine right now.”

Stricherz says she is excited by the work Swartz is doing.

“Many times prom can be a burden to students and their families when they have to purchase a ticket and then pay for clothing and dinner with friends. Often times, Prom can cost a few hundred dollars or even more by the time everything is purchased. Paige’s senior project really helps to alleviate some of the stress families feel during Prom.”

Swartz said she’ll set up the prom dress giveaway in the middle of the commons and those who are interested can pick out a dress and then try it on in a restroom.

“If the dress works, they can just take it,” Swartz said. “We’ll be organized by size and each dress will have a tag on it so that people will have a good knowledge of what it would be.”

A friend of secretary Cindy Stephens will have a table where two pieces of jewelry can be purchased for $5.

Swartz said she’s pleased with the results of her project so far.

“I’ve gotten a great response to this,” Swartz said. “Whether they’ve donated a dress or not, so many people have reached out to thank me. It gives me a really good feeling because I know I’m helping a lot of people.”