Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 04-17-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 IN OUR SCHOOLS APRIL 17-23, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Pawtucket students say 'yes' to free prom dresses PAWTUCKET – School offi- cials and community partners in Pawtucket are helping students say "yes" to the dress, free of charge. This prom season, thanks to dona- tions and partnerships between schools and local businesses, students had the opportunity to shop through gowns of all different styles, about 150 of which were brand new, last Saturday, April 13. Shea High School and Joseph Jenks Middle School each hosted dress giveaways, where local high school students were welcome to sift through gowns and dresses for prom, graduation and various award cer- emonies that take place at the end of the academic year. For some students, financial con- cerns cause them to rule out attend- ing prom at all, and with the cost of prom only getting more expensive, school officials said, the giveaway aims to help students offset expenses and experience a special night in their high school lives. The event wouldn't have been pos- sible without schools teaming up, and the generosity of local businesses, officials said. Rosemary Gomes, special educa- tion teacher at Shea High School, partnered with Alexandra's Boutique in Fall River, Mass. She and Marion Woolf, social worker at Shea, said school faculty, staff and commu- nity members also donated dresses, helped spread the word about the giveaway event and assisted with the setup and cleanup of the pop-up dress "shop" at the high school. "It has been a collaborative effort," said Gomes, adding that any dona- tions made to the cause would help fund costs for Shea male students' tuxedo rentals. Accessories, wraps and shoes were also on display for students to look through at Shea's giveaway event, as were coupons for products and ser- vices at Alexandra's Bridal Boutique, Robert's Tuxedo Company, Emilia's Custom Tailor Shop in Pawtucket and Débora seamstress services in New Bedford, Mass. Sandra Jackson, daughter of Rosemary Gomes, said she works at Alexandria's Boutique. She said she brought her mom's effort to the own- ers, Joel Benson and Fatima Leone, and they were immediately on board, agreeing to donate hundreds of dress- es. With the owners' other efforts to open a second location, called Alexandria's Too, also in Fall River, Mass., she never imagined that they would have the time or resources to be able to contribute so generously, she said. Jackson said she's also proud of her mom, a special educator, who has been organizing the effort at Shea for the past two years. "Everything she does is for the stu- dents," she said. Gomes is the type who takes money out of her own pocket to help kids who come to school with no pencils. The effort really took off this year with help from her employer. Over at Jenks Middle School's giveaway event, Joanne Bonollo of the School Committee said she was ecstatic with the number of students who came by and found their special dress. "Everybody who has come in has left with a gown or dress … Everybody's left with a smile on their face. I'm thrilled," she said. Howell Smith Pharmacy & Gift Shop and The Empowerment Factory in Pawtucket served as drop- off locations for gown donations prior to the event, Bonollo said, and once Diamond Cleaners owner Carl Sahady heard about the initiative, he offered to press and clean all the gowns in advance of the giveaway, free of charge. Ann & Hope also donated clothing racks for the event, Bonollo said. She thanked everyone for their contributions. "The community came together," Bonollo said. As more students trickled in to search for their special dress, Gomes at Shea said the giveaway event is a way for Pawtucket school officials to "help support our students, that's our intent." Calling prom a "milestone in their lives," Gomes said she hoped the free dresses and discounted services offered would help encourage stu- dents to attend prom. She said seeing students so happy "makes the work and all of the effort worthwhile." Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts students HALEY LYNN and ADELYNA HILL look through hundreds of dresses last Saturday. Dining Guide Open 7 Days 7 a.m.-3 p.m. 140 Newport Ave., Rumford www.persysplace.com 434-8899 Present this coupon at our East Providence location only MONDAY-FRIDAY Buy One Meal Get Second Meal 1/2 Price (Half price taken off lower priced meal. Only 1 coupon may be redeemed per visit. May not be combined with any other promotion) Excludes holidays. Excludes drinks. 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