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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Belle of the Ball gives prom dresses to girls in need




Do you know a girl in Pinellas County who can't afford her dream dress for prom this year? The Belle of the Ball Project can help.

The nonprofit program, founded in 2003, provides girls with new and gently worn prom, homecoming, bridesmaid and cocktail dresses, along with shoes, accessories and handbags.

"With such hard times for so many, there isn't enough money in the budget for a prom dress," said founder Susan Schwartz. "Families who did not need our services in the past, did not know we exist, may need our services now. I want to get the word out to those families and their daughters that we are there to help them with at least a dress, maybe shoes and a purse."

Qualifying girls should attend high school in Pinellas County. They should be referred by a church, civic group, social worker or guidance counselor; or be eligible for free or reduced lunch.  Teens don't need a referral letter, but they must be present to get a dress. The honor system is respected, said Schwartz, who asks for a dollar donation in exchange for a dress to help with costs. But even that's not mandatory.

Dresses will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow, April 25 and May 2 at 11201 Park Blvd. next to Bealls. It's a nice setting, with dressing rooms. No fishing dresses out of a box.

"I try to make the experince like they are walking to a department store," said Schwartz.

Donations are also encouraged. For more information visit the website.

~ Deal Diva Stephanie

Photo: Ashley Zaratzian tries on a dress from a Belle of the Ball event 2006. By Kathleen Flynn, Times staff.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 20, 2010 5:15pm]


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