NORWICH — The cvFree Prom Closet, located at cvFree Church at 4299 State Highway 23, will be hosting several open houses for Chenango County teens to check out the 80 prom dresses available for rent for a $20 refundable deposit.
Open houses will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on March 30, April 21, May 4, and May 11, and 6 to 7:30 p.m. on April 18. No registration or appointment is needed, and students from any school in the area are welcome to stop in and try on dresses.
"The open house dates are open to anybody. You can come within whatever time frame we are doing it for that specific date," said cvFree Prom Closet Lead Alexis Race. "There’s no pre-registration process or anything. You just show up and have fun, look for dresses, and I hope that everyone finds one. That’s my goal."
Those that aren't able to make it to an open house are encouraged to contact the cvFree Prom Closet Facebook page.
"If for some reason you can’t make a date, reach out to us and we’ll see what we can do for you," said Race.
The approximately 80 dresses at the Prom Closet are available in a wide range of sizes, including plus sizes, and various colors and styles, making sure there is a dress for everyone's size and taste.
At the open houses, Race said visitors will be assisted by a volunteer to find dresses in their size and preferred style to try on in dressing rooms set up at cvFree Church. Once the perfect dress is found, they can also try on shoes and jewelry that are included in the dress rental.
"The whole point of me setting up dressing rooms downstairs is so they have that one-on-one experience with a volunteer here, as if they went to an actual dress store and still had that special experience. It’s really important to me," Race said.
Borrowing a dress does require a deposit of $20, which is refunded after prom when the dress is returned.
"It’s a $20 deposit, but you get that deposit back when you return the dress, as long as there’s no damage to it. And that $20 deposit does include shoes and jewelry as well," Race explained.
Additionally, Race said the Prom Closet will be hosting something new this year: a "Get Ready With Me" event the day of the Norwich High School prom. Prom-goers can attend to have their hair and makeup done, as well as get photos taken by a photographer. Follow the cvFree Prom Closet Facebook page for more details as they become available.
"Unfortunately we just don’t have the volunteers right now to have a Get Ready With Me on every single prom day, so we’re just going to do it on the Norwich prom day this year to see how it goes," Race said. "That was a goal of mine last year that I’m so excited to pull off this year. I think that it's going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited."
The cvFree Prom Closet was first started around eight years ago by members of cvFree Church who were in high school.
"It was just a group of girls who attended this church who were all in high school, and they just had the idea to start doing a prom closet for girls who need dresses who don’t have the opportunity to go get one. So they started it here, and it’s just continued to grow," said Race. "It’s an awesome, awesome ministry."
Those looking to support the Prom Closet can do so by donating used prom dresses, formal shoes, jewelry, suit jackets, dress pants, and dress shirts. Race said the Closet is looking for formal shoes in particular.
Donations can be dropped off in the donation bin on the front porch of cvFree Church, or donors can contact the cvFree Prom Closet Facebook page.
"I just go through whatever is dropped off or whatever I pick up, and I just go through it and make sure that it’s in well enough condition that somebody would feel special to wear it," said Race. "The reason why I’m so picky about what I take is because I don’t want anybody to feel as if they’re getting anything left over, or that they’re not deserving of anything that is of good quality."
Those interested in volunteering at the cvFree Prom Closet can contact the cvFree Prom Closet Facebook page to discuss availability. Race said volunteers help visitors find a selection of dresses to try on, as well as shoes and jewelry, and set up dressing rooms.
"It’s such a rewarding ministry honestly, because you can tell some of them walk in and they’re not super excited to be here looking for a dress," said Race. "But then they realize the quality of a dress they’re getting, and the experience that they’re getting, and it just makes them so happy and they’re so thankful, and that is the most rewarding part."
More information on the cvFree Prom Closet can be found on the cvFree Prom Closet Facebook page.