The recent Amity Teen Center coat drive put warm jackets on more than 1,500 children and teens in the Greater New Haven area; what could the ATC kids possibly do to top that success? It didn’t, however, take them long to come up with their next project, which is a prom gown exchange to help teens who can’t afford the price of formal wear for one of the most anticipated nights of high school.
The kids at ATC are asking for donations of new or gently worn formal dresses, tuxedos, shoes and prom accessories for loan to high schoolers who would not otherwise be able to attend their prom.
“There’s a great need for this,” said STC board member Jay Jaser. “There are a lot of girls who can’t afford the dresses.”
Jaser said most people think of Amity as a well-to-do area where buying a gown shouldn’t be a problem, but there are many people struggling in this region. Also, ATC serves teens in a 30-mile radius, Jaser said, which includes a lot of low-income areas.
“We have kids coming from New Haven, Hamden, Wallingford, everywhere,” he said. “That’s what inspired my son Austin to start the coat drive, seeing kids coming in without a warm coat to wear.”
Prom season is just around the corner so ATC is getting a somewhat late start on their project, but the coat drive had been an all-consuming project and they wanted to finish that before they started their next missioin. In the future, Jaser foresees contacting manufacturers and getting donations at the end of prom season for the following year, but for this time around, they have to rely on the kindness and generosity of people in the area.
“Even if we are able to help 10 girls get to the prom this year,” Jaser said, “that’s 10 who wouldn’t be able to go. We're going to need a jump-start this year.”
“The kids here are energetic and dedicated,” Jaser added, “and really want to make a difference.”
ATC asks everyone to please look in their closets for prom-appropriate clothing that can be dropped off on Fridays and Saturdays from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The hours for pick up are the same; all that is required is a valid high school I.D. and a promise to return the clothing in good condition.