‘Project Prom Dress’ brings free gowns to high schoolers in Montgomery Co.

The “Project Prom” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Dresses available at the “Project Prom” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

A local teen shows off a prom dress at the “Project Prom” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Girls tried on dresses at the “Project Prom” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Display at the “Project Prom” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Shoppers browsing donated jewelry at the “Project Prom Dress” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Shoppers look for dresses during the “Project Prom Dress” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

Shoppers look for dresses during the “Project Prom Dress” event in Burtonsville, MD, on Saturday.

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High schoolers eager for prom were all smiles as they exited dressing rooms at a prom dress giveaway in Burtonsville, Maryland on Saturday.

At Montgomery County’s first “Project Prom Dress,” area teens had the chance to select the perfect prom dress for free.

“It is a kind of blackish sheer. It reminds me of the 90s,” said high school senior Jalyn Sampson, as she described her favorite dress from the event.



Montgomery County Recreation’s first “Project Prom Dress” event was held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville, MD

There were about 1,700 free dresses available along with shoes, scarves and jewelry to pick out.

“It is awesome. I’m a single mom of four so this definitely came in handy,” said Jayla’s mother Nicole Lewis from Silver Spring. “This is such a big opportunity. I was scared that she wasn’t going to be able to have a prom.”

Both area and nonlocal students were allowed to take part in the giveaway, as long as they had a valid high school ID.

“A lot of tears from the girls, and also us the organizers,” said Sharon Pitt, recreation coordinator at the Marilyn J. Praisner Recreation Center. “When they try on a dress that someone donated and it fits them like a glove, it’s just amazing to see.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich was also at the event. He said he hopes it will allows more people to attend their big dance.

“For a lot of families they can’t afford a prom dress,” Elrich said. “And if you don’t feel you can dress right to go to the prom, a lot of people won’t go.”

Organizers for “Project Prom Dress” have been working toward the event since last November. They said it will become an annual event and hope to offer menswear as well, next year.

“To see our vision that we talked about come to life — and see the smiles on their faces — is incredible,” said Deanna Greene, recreation specialist for the Marilyn J. Praisner Recreation Center.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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