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Free prom dress giveaway lifts barriers

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Events are returning in earnest, and families are being forced to prioritize material things in today’s tight economy. An event hosted by New Beginnings is trying to help.

“Everything now is very expensive,” said Bana Albek, who was helping her daughter look for a dress.

There is a pep in the step of young girls in advance of semi-formal dances and prom season.

“Let's go mom. We were out the door at 8:15. The event starts at 10,” said Sandi Harris, who was one of many who lined up outside for the free-dress giveaway.

“COVID. There weren't proms everywhere. Graduation,” said Stacey Yannacopoulos, executive director of New Beginnings. “A lot of it was virtual so this is the first year that schools are back full force and the kids are excited.”

Suna Albek had a few dresses to try on, “I'm very happy. These dresses would be like a thousand dollars if we had to buy them.”

That kind of disposable income is not readily available in today's economy.

“You don't have to worry about the pressures and the stress of putting out 800 to a thousand dollars for a dress. Look how happy she is,” said Harris.

There were over 500 dresses to choose from with accessories and shoes to boot. It took her daughter Jada 45 minutes to find the right one.

“It's really exciting because it gives kids who don't have the opportunity, who don't have the funding to get the dress of their dreams. It's really a big thing,” she added.

Cielo Larson drove in with her mom from Kingsville for her dress.

“Me, I can't afford something, like, this pretty, and I know a lot of people can't and that's why they miss the opportunity of prom or semi. I'm lucky to have this opportunity that I can,” said Larson.

Donations throughout the year helped make this event a possibility.

Yannacopoulos said donations can be made at New Beginnings or at their other building at 1049 Janette Ave.

“Events like this eliminates one barrier and make this time of year magical and special,” said Yannacopoulos.

Harris is thankful and was thrilled because her daughter was happy, “She will get her grad and seeing her in the dress just brings tears to my eyes [because] she's beautiful.”

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