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Princess Project in San Diego Accepting Donated Prom Dresses In January

Above: Sequoia Booker finds a prom dress at the Princess Project location in Horton Plaza in May 2013.

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Aired 1/6/14

Throughout January, the nonprofit The Princess Project is collecting gently used prom dresses and evening gowns to distribute to high school girls from low-income families in San Diego.

Throughout January, The Princess Project is collecting gently used prom dresses and evening gowns to distribute to high school girls from low-income families.

This will be the sixth year the nonprofit collects and distributes dresses in San Diego.

Anyone with used formal dresses or accessories like jewelry, purses, shawls and shoes can drop them off at more than 20 locations throughout San Diego County.

While donating prom dresses might seem frivolous, Jennifer Gaston, the chair of The Princess Project's San Diego chapter, said it means a lot to the girls who receive the items.

"I think once they have a dress and they really feel beautiful and they feel more like a woman, then you see them stand up straighter and pull their shoulders back and really sink in to, 'Yeah, I am beautiful, and yeah, I am growing up,'" she said.

The average cost a high schooler spent on prom last year was $1,139, according to the research company Gfk, and a big chunk of that cost goes toward dresses. If girls receive a free dress, they get a confidence boost and don't have to skip an important coming-of-age ritual, Gaston said.

Girls don’t have to prove they come from low-income families to get a dress, but they're referred usually by foster homes, homeless shelters, teachers, or guidance counselors.

The donated dresses will be sorted and displayed so high school girls can browse through them and find the right dress.

Last year, more than 1,000 dresses were given away.

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