Hundreds of gowns were donated Saturday during the first Colvin Cleaners "Gowns for Prom" gown drive at the three Reeds Jenss locations. The drive was held to fulfill a need for more gowns for the 13th annual program, which is presented by the Allstate Foundation and supported by WKSE "KISS" 98.5-AM and on-air personality Janet Snyder.
"Our goal each year is to provide 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," said Paul A. Billoni, president and CEO of Colvin Cleaners. "We are in communication with nearly 90 high schools from Batavia to Jamestown to Niagara County and, from our communication, we see the need for gowns is tremendous.
"We thank Jeffrey Zimmer and Reeds Jenss for hosting this event as it now gives us confidence we will have plenty of gowns for the distribution in two weeks on the stage at Shea's Performing Arts Center."
The three Reeds Jenss locations have Colvin Cleaners' wrapped barrels inside their stores for the year-round collection of gowns, coats and accessories for both programs. 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., Irving.
Colvin Cleaners is in communication with nearly 90 high schools throughout Erie County, as well as Niagara County and as far away as Batavia and Jamestown. The steady calls from young ladies and schools scheduling times to select a gown has led the Billoni family business to seek more donations - especially plus-sized gowns (sizes 16 and up). Schools are encouraged to bring students together, possibly in a bus, so they are together selecting gowns and avoiding similar colors and styles.
The donated gowns are sorted by size and transported to Shea's Performing Arts Center for selection April 9-11 (3-8 p.m.). On 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 by professional seamstresses upstairs in the stars' dressing rooms. 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.
Volunteers, ages 18 and older (unless accompanied by a parent), are needed at Shea's in the distribution and restocking of gowns and monitoring of the dressing rooms. Also needed are seamstresses and tailors to assist with alterations of the gowns. 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 501(c)(3) under the Goodwill Industries of Western New York provision.
Volunteer Sue Billoni in the back of a Colvin Cleaners truck filled with donated gowns at the Amherst location.