NORTH ADAMS -- With prom season just around the corner, lots of young people are beginning to think about what to wear and how much it will cost.
For some, the price of a prom dress or a tuxedo is prohibitive, but the Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) is gathering gently used, and some new, prom dresses and suits that can make the experience a bit less stressful.
BCAC staff and volunteers are collecting the garments in the offices in North Adams, Pittsfield and Great Barrington.
The clothing drive, "Once Upon A Dance," is BCAC's first foray into prom high fashion.
"A lot of girls can't afford to go to the prom," said Aleta Moncecchi, director of community partnerships at BCAC. "so we try to help with that."
On Friday, in the North Adams office alone, there had already been about 60 dresses collected that are ready to go. Moncecchi estimated there have been about 200 collected county-wide.
The drive has been advertised with flyers, Facebook posts and emails.
Local high school proms typically occur in May.
Girls and boys who need help with their prom ensemble will be reached through their guidance counselors, Moncecchi said.
"When a dress costs $100, $200 or $300, it gets expensive," she said. "For many families who can't even afford to pay for heat, a prom dress is out of the question."
Jaime Hamilton, a guidance counselor at Drury High School and co-advisor for the prom, has already collected some dresses, knowing that it is an issue for a growing number of families.
"I think more girls are facing that because dresses are expensive and not a priority for some families," she said. "We are pretty tuned in to the need -- we know demographically who is in more need. Now the girls will have this as an option."
Folks who have a gently used prom dress or suit should get donate quickly, added Tammy Biagini, another of the campaign's organizers.
"Get them in as soon as possible," she said. "The girls are going to be looking for dresses starting in the next couple of weeks."
"Girls are already thinking about this," Moncecchi agreed. "And for the girls we can help, we want them to get their dress early -- get the hardest part out of the way."
Girls who need help with hair, make up or nails can also seek help with the folks at BCAC.
For more information or to donate an item of prom clothing, call the BCAC office in North Adams at 413-663-3014, Pittsfield at 413-445-4503 or in Great Barrington at 413-528-1947.
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