By Rick Dayton


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Today’s teens spend significantly more money on prom than their parents ever did. Research from VISA says the figure in 2015 was $919 per family, and that is down a couple hundred bucks from 2013.

There is good news though.

Some families will be able to have their young ladies enjoy the big night without the stress of how to pay for it all. That’s because prom season will be here before you know it.

Photo Credit: KDKA

“We have every dress in every style, every color,” says Christina Ruggiero, the executive director of the National Council of Jewish Women. “Short. Long. Sparkly. Satiny. You name it. We have it.”

Project Prom is a joint venture between the Department of Human Services and the National Council of Jewish Women at the NJCW Thriftique store in Lawrenceville. Students who qualify for free and reduced lunches at school are eligible to participate in Project Prom. Children of active duty military are also invited.

“I think we all feel so grateful that we have this opportunity to help girls that otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to prom,” says Ruggiero. “We want girls to have the same life experiences, the same type of rite of passage that every other girl gets to have.”

Dresses are donated from all around the region — some directly from young ladies — but there are other sources as well. The American Eagle Foundation and the Pittsburgh Foundation gave money to NJCW to buy dresses.

It doesn’t cost a dime for eligible young ladies to participate. They get a dress, accessories, and naturally, the perfect pair of shoes.

Ruggiero knows it is a wonderful way to help families in a tangible way.

“This program really is inspiring because we get to see girls feel special, feel like the center of attention, and sometimes that’s not always what they get to have, and so this is an opportunity where we can provide that to them,” she said.

The big payoff, Ruggiero says, comes when the young princesses pick a gown that makes them feel like a million bucks.

“We just love those amazing smiles when they are looking at themselves in the mirror,” she said.

Project Prom, at the Thriftique in Lawrenceville, continues for eligible families Monday evening until 6:30 p.m., then Thursday, March 14 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. For more information, visit this link.