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LAWRENCEVILLE (KDKA) — Every young woman wants to go to her prom, but many can’t afford the cost. The annual “Project Prom” boutique aims to solve that problem.

Located at the Thriftique resale boutique in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, the project is a partnership between the National Council of Jewish Women and the Allegheny County Department of Health and Human Services.

The boutique provides new and gently used contemporary gowns in all sizes, as well as accessories like shoes and jewelry to match. Each girl is assigned to a personal shopper when she arrives to help her find sizes and select styles.

Amela Sanders-Vincenty was paired with personal shopper Nicole Lee. She was shopping for Carrick High School’s prom, which is on May 24.

“I was nervous at first when I got here,” said Sanders-Vincenty. “Then I felt ‘I got this, it’s prom!'”

Eventually they settled on a gown with a black bodice and colorful skirt which happened to match Sanders-Vincenty colorful hairstyle.

Lee was only too happy to help.

“It’s very fulfilling to give back,” she said. “When they’re thankful that they found that gown or that dress and the smiles on their faces, it’s priceless.”

NCJW’s Lynnette Lederman, who is co-chair of this year’s Project Prom, says paying for prom is “a pretty expensive proposition for teens and parents who are struggling and don’t have many resources. This is a pretty special opportunity for them.”

Gabi Girton, a senior from Shaler, agrees. Girton said she thought she might not be able to go to Shaler’s prom when friends told her how much their gowns cost. She was even more concerned because both she and her younger sister needed outfits. Girton found her dream dress in a flowing red gown with a fitted bodice and rhinestone straps.

The Project Prom boutique is open to high school girls whose families receive services through the county or are on food stamps, food assistance, free or reduced-price lunches, unemployment, or where a parent is on active duty in the military or a veteran. Despite those suggested eligibility requirements, organizers say no girls are turned away, although shoppers should be prepared to show a high school ID.

Lederman says the volunteers get as much out of it as the young women they help.

“The biggest benefit to us is the smiles,” she said. “When they come out of the dressing room and stand on that platform, and they get to twirl around like they’re on [the cable TV show] ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ they feel very very special.”

Thriftique is located at 125 51st Street in Lawrenceville. There’s free on-site parking, and the facility is served by Port Authority bus routes 87, 91 or 93 to 51st/Stanton and Butler St.

The final day of shopping is Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, visit alleghenycounty.us/Human-Services/News-Events/Events/Project-Prom.aspx.

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