WALLENPAUPACK - Prom dresses and suits may be a costly investment for some. Yet, when prom comes around every year, money of various amounts is spent on apparel that may only be worn once. Since finances may be tight for some, Deb Coppola is hoping to ease that burden for those who may need assistance.  As a result, Coppola has been collecting prom dresses, suits and gear for anyone for the first ever Paupack Prom Project.

As of early February, Coppola who volunteers with a food bank and clothes closet in the community, has collected more than 40 prom dresses and many suits. She acknowledged that with the cost of many necessities in life, affording attire for one evening may be a challenge.

With seamstresses and dry-cleaning services donated, the attire will be ready and waiting for those interested and seeking their apparel for an evening Coppola said should be “magical.”

Everything is free and if the teenagers want, they can keep the dresses or suits. But, they are also welcome to give the attire back because Coppola plans on making the Paupack Prom Project an annual venture.  

Through her volunteerism, Coppola said she saw the need for such a project and so, she feels anonymity is significant because finances are a private matter since, “Your circumstances shouldn’t make or break you.”

To ensure people are able to select their dresses or suits without the world knowing it, selections will occur by appointment. If teenagers want to bring friends, that she is okay with.

Selections started in March, but the acceptance of donations will continue till prom, which is April 29. The number of suits weren’t quite comparable to the number of dresses as of February. Coppola said that if anyone comes looking for a suit, the volunteers will buy what is needed. As of yet, however, everything had been donated from the community.

A senior at Wallenpaupack Area High School, Carrie Loomis has been modeling the dresses to ensure they are of good quality. Taking part in the project, she said is important because girls should “feel confident” about their dresses since “everyone deserves a chance to feel pretty.”

Dylan NewComer, who is also a senior acknowledged that some of his peers may be unable to afford a suit and so, he feels it is “important” that they “feel good going to prom.”

A sixth-grade student in the district, Shelby Sharff was trying on dresses to ensure they were acceptable for smaller females. Trying on the dresses was simply “amazing” because of her love for such dresses she said.

Coppole’s daughter Alexandra who is a senior, said she feels her peers “deserve a chance to have fun at prom” while also looking their best.

Of the dresses available through the Paupack Prom Project, Loomis said the selection was “good” and there was something for everyone. The dresses though, she called “unique” as they all weren’t similar to one another.

NewComer said there will not be any two of the same dress available through the project, because there is “definitely a good variety.”

After collecting dresses for just a month, Coppola said the project “really took off” after word of the collection spread.

Alexandra is Coppola’s second child going to prom and so, having already gone through the search for a dress and being well aware that they can be costly, she is “amazed by peoples’ generosity” she said. As well, there is also the factor of memories that come with such an evening as a teenager’s prom. But, by donating a dress or suit, that Coppola said is a chance to give back.

With the dresses and suits available, Coppola is also collecting other accessories that go with the evening. As of February, the suits that had been donated were on the larger size and so, she was hoping more suits would be given.
            Prom, Coppola said is a “fairy tale night” as it occurs at a point in teenagers’ lives where they are on the “brink of adulthood” and so, it is their “red-carpet moment.”
            The dresses can be dropped off at the Paupack Methodist Church. For more information call the church at 570-857-1141 or Coppola at 570-390-4013.