SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Thousands of high school girls will be going to prom this year in San Diego County but not all will be able afford a dress.
Princess Project San Diego Chapter, is a non-profit organization that collects new or gently used formal dresses for low-income young women go to prom.
In the downtown basement where the organization stores its dressed there are racks of gowns with sequence, ruching, ruffles and bridesmaid dresses which are in high demand.
“It's all about making that girl feel very confident. Her self-esteem has increased and finding that inner beauty that she is able to come in touch with,” said Alma Lyles, Princess Project San Diego.
Volunteers need to collect 6,000 dresses to reach 2,000 girl who will need a dress for prom this year. One survey shows a girl will spend more than $1,000 on prom.
“A lot of these girls have never tried a dress on and you get some high school girls who are pregnant or never been into a storefront,” said Lyles.
Solid, basic dresses are in too. Girls can dress it up with an accessory that is donated as well and low-income girls of all sizes are welcome to make an appointment.
“We take lots of pride ensuring that we never turn a girl away because we don't have that size dress for her,” said Lyles.
She has been encouraging friends for years to clean out their closet and donate and if their daughters are off to college to clean out their closet too.
“This garment that has been sitting in their closet that they have this emotional attachment with is going to allow a girl to go to prom,” said Lyles.
Once the girl makes an appointment they will have a personal shopper for an hour.
“It's magic,” said Princess Project San Diego Co-Chair Jen Gaston. “Just that special sparkle, their shoulders go back and they grin and everyone starts crying, that is really the magic that is what we are really about."
Dresses are collected year round but they would ideally want the dresses by the end of February to help with the current prom season.
There are more than 35 drop-off locations to donate your new or gently used prom-type dress. Click here for locations.
Teens can also make an appointment on the Princess Project website.