A Promising Prom

By Greg Seiter

Shopping for a prom dress can be kind of intimidating, especially if you’re on a limited budget. Boutique dresses can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Thanks to Project Prom, a Johnson County Public Library-endorsed program, prom-goers can prep for the big event at a lower cost.

Through Project Prom, teenage girls and boys from all over the state can browse through gently used gowns, tuxedos, shoes and accessories and select their favorite formalwear, free of charge. All items available through the seven-year program have been donated by individuals, dress stores and community partners and can be claimed during designated dates/times at two Johnson County Library locations — the Clark Pleasant Branch (530 Tracy Road, Suite 250, New Whiteland) and the Franklin Branch (401 State St., Franklin).

When students arrive to shop, they’re greeted by either a library staff member or volunteer who can assist with the process and answer questions as they arise. Dressing room pods are available so attendees can try their selections on before taking them home. Donated items are accepted year-round at all Johnson County Public Library branches.

The event was founded by Kelly Staten, adult and teen services librarian at the Johnson County Public Library’s Franklin Branch. Staten, who launched the program with a former co-worker, found she had a burgeoning collection of formal frocks lying fallow in her closet; formerly called Prom Dress Swap, the event kicked off in 2013. The program continues to grow in popularity, she says.

“Since 2013, we’ve had over 800 people attend Project Prom,” she says. “My hope is that teens will find the perfect dress or tux here, be able to attend prom and make memories on their special night.”

Clark Pleasant Branch Project Prom shopping dates:
March 26 to 29: Noon to 6 p.m.
March 30: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Franklin Branch Project Prom shopping dates:
March 31: 1 to 3 p.m.
April 1 and 2: 3 to 8 p.m.
April 3: 2 to 5 p.m.

Information: Project Prom
Facebook page: facebook.com/projectpromjohnsoncounty/