From Deep in the Closet to a Needy Girl’s Prom

The New York Times—March 26, 2010

Trapped in closets all over New York, and probably the world, are ghosts from thousands of prom nights, Sweet 16 parties, weddings.

The fancy dress: usually worn once for a few hours, then retired from active duty.
“I love them; then I never wanted to wear it again,” Megan Kerrigan, 30, said. “It’ll hang in my closet, and I don’t want to throw it out.”

A decade ago, as a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Ms. Kerrigan and a classmate, Rashia Bell, came up with a scheme to get those ghosts dancing again.

Since then, they have collected and given away about 20,000 barely used formal dresses, plus some brand-new ones, to girls who might not have been able to afford their own.

On Thursday evening, about 20 girls who have lupus and are members of Charla de Lupus (Lupus Chat), a support group for young women with lupus, gathered in a boutique set up at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. They were guided by volunteers from Project Sunshine, which organizes events for chronically ill kids.

Among those inspecting the goods was Tracy Pulla, 17, a senior who is concentrating on engineering at Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical High School on Staten Island. “There’s a cosmetology department; probably a lot of girls from there will be getting dolled up for the prom,” Ms. Pulla said. “But not so many from engineering.”

She, however, was not settling for a geeky engineering outfit. When she spotted a sweeping new Oscar de la Renta in her size, she knew she had scored. “Pretty stupendous,” Ms. Pulla said. “It reminds me of the Corpse Bride, from the Tim Burton movie.”

Read the full article at nytimes.com.

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