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Lakeland Students 'Dress it Forward' for Prom

Spanish Honor Society students have been receiving donations of gently used dresses so underprivileged girls can go to prom.

Students at  have been talking about their upcoming prom for months. While there is always the exciting chatter among girls about what dress they're going to wear, many realize how fortunate they are to afford one. 

Members of Lakeland's Spanish Honor Society have been collecting gently used dresses to donate them to underprivileged girls, so they too can go to prom.

Their "Dress It Forward" campaign, sponsored by Bloomingdale’s and , began last week and ends today. Despite the short amount of time they've had to collect the dresses, students said they've received great feedback from the community.

In just five days, they collected a total of 100 prom dresses. 

Anyone wishing to drop off their prom dress could still do so, even after the campaign is over, until June at the main office of each school within the .

"Prom is a pretty big event," said Sergio Calle, senior and Spanish Honor Society Club officer. "It's once in your life. Every girl needs the chance to go to prom."

Katie Esposito, who is also a senior and club officer, said she was looking through the Bloomingdale's catalog when she came up with the idea of getting her club involved with the campaign. 

The high school students agreed that prom is an important event in a high schooler's life, and they shouldn't have to worry about not being able to afford a dress or tuxedo. 

"No one knows that you didn't pay for your dress," Esposito said as she described how Operation Prom sets up a shop where the girls in need could pick out the dress they like.

Colleen Riordan, a senior, said going to prom and getting a dress is big deal to some. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to prom dresses among the Lakeland high school girls, so they don't go to prom in a similar dress as someone else. 

But she understands how expensive the prom season can be – from the dress to the limousine and the tickets to the actual prom, and how lucky they are to be able to afford a dress. That's why they want to help others who don't have the same opportunities. 

"We have great kids who really care about other kids," Lakeland High School assistant principal said. "It's really nice to see."

Prom dresses are usually worn once and never again. Riordan said people have dresses that are just sitting in the closet collecting dust. 

"This is an opportunity to give them to someone who will appreciate them," she said.

The Spanish Honor Society students have been involved in various other charitable events – from collecting school supplies to inner-city kids to donating winter coats to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Students in the club must complete 20 hours of community service, and 10 of those hours must be Spanish related, Esposito said. 

"I truly believe it teaches students to become better human beings," said Marlene Moussa, who is the club's advisor and a Spanish and French teacher. "We just need the community to help. We're lucky to live in Westchester, we can afford a lot of things, but others can't."

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