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Prom Dresses make “princesses for a day”

Amanda Michaels | Friday, March 5, 2004

Every girl dreams of being a princess, complete with a sparkly dress and prince at her arm, and with the help of concerned Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students and staff members, the wishes of local high school students are about to come true.Inspired by a similar drive in Fort Wayne last year, Princess for a Night is an event that provides local high school junior and senior girls with a dress, free of charge, to wear to their prom.The effort is actually a merging of two different drives, said Saint Mary’s junior Aubrey Szany, one of the students who suggested the idea to Erin Ytterberg, chair of Princess for a Night and staff member in the Office of Research at the Graduate School. “After I began to get involved in this project through the [Residence Hall Association], I came to find out that there were two other girls on campus who were doing a prom dress drive. We kind of combined efforts, though our drive is done for St. Joseph’s County, and theirs is for Walkerton County,” Szany said.Ytterberg said that while no campus organizations are directly involved, the Junior League of South Bend – of which she is a member – and Ziker Cleaners are running the project. Though this is the first year for the event, Ytterberg said there was a strong response from local merchants and community members. She said she hopes for an equal effort from the student population. She encouraged students to ask friends, family members and even neighbors to check their closets for extra dress and said that donations will be accepted to purchase special dress sizes.”We currently have around 400 dresses, and we are hoping for more,” she said. “We all remember prom and what a special and exciting event it is during high school. We want every girl to have the opportunity to go and feel like a princess, and not be held back because of the expense.”Szany agreed, adding that Princess for a Night is an event that most college women would have little trouble lending a hand to.”I know at home I have tons of dresses I don’t even use, so why would I hold on to them if they’re just going to sit there and I could be putting them to good use for people who can’t afford them?” she said. “It’s really hard to find an inexpensive dress, and it’s an amazing thing for people with very little money to be able to get a good dress for free.” The deadline for the drive is March 19 at 5 p.m., and once everything is organized, St. Joseph County will hold an event at University Park Mall where the high school girls can choose the dress they want. Though Ziker Cleaners was the dress collection point through February, there is no designated spot as of now. However, students can bring dresses to Ytterberg in the Office of Research at 511 Main Building.Now all that’s missing from the picture is the prince, but that’s another story.