MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Operation Prom held a collection drive Tuesday night at Salon Posh in Mamaroneck, where residents dropped off lightly-used dresses that high school girls in need can wear to their prom.
The non-profit organization, based in Bronxville, began with a phone call by founder Noel D'allacco in 2005 to her alma mater high school in Yonkers. Working as a wedding planner, the Eastchester resident asked Saunders High School in Yonkers if it could use 10 used dresses she had on hand. That year, 10 girls who otherwise could not have afforded a dress went to prom.
"It's grown faster than I could have imagined," D'allacco said. "We now cover all of Westchester County, Hudson Valley, Manhattan and Queens."
The program, which partnered with the Westchester County Department of Social Services three years ago, has expanded to provide boys with tuxedos, as well as regular donations of clothes, food, school supplies and scholarships. Students, some who live in shelters, group homes or low-income households, must be recommended by their guidance counselor and passing all of their classes. Financial need has become less of a factor, D'allacco said, because the economy has left so many in need of a little help.
Operation Prom, which D'allacco said recently expanded to New Jersey, Georgia and Texas, holds drives like the one in Mamaroneck Tuesday throughout its areas of operation. In 2011, it distributed approximately 3,200 dresses throughout New York.
Each year during Spring Break, girls can pick up their dresses at the group's giveaway event. This year, girls can pick them up at one of three locations: the Peekskill Department of Social Services on April 10; the College of Westchester in White Plains on April 11; and the Yonkers Department of Social Services April 12 and 13.
Diane Mammana, owner of Salon Posh on 516 W Boston Post Road, has been to every event and offers any girls from Mamaroneck benefiting from the program free hair styling. She also offers discounts to girls from neighboring communities.
"Personally, she's the most inspirational and motivational woman I know," said Mammana, a Harrison resident who opened Salon Posh in September of 2009.
For the past four years, Operation Prom has awarded a leadership scholarship to a student. Going forward, it hopes to continue to expand its efforts and reach those in need.
"The goal really is to do a big school supplies drive this year," D'allacco said. "We're hoping to kick it off in the 2012-2013 school year."