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Rhiannon Eades, the Public Information Officer, helps organize the suits that were donated. The Athens-Clarke County Library in Athens, Georgia is hosting their second Bling Your Prom event where teenagers from around the area can come pick out dresses for free. All of the dresses are donated, and the event is run by volunteers. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

As the weather warms up and students finish their final months of the academic year, high school prom approaches for teenagers in Athens. An expensive endeavor for many families to purchase formal wear for the event, the Athens-Clarke County Library has found a way to provide teens with the dresses, suits and accessories they need to have an unforgettable night.

In the event’s second year, “Bling Your Prom,” was created to meet a need in the community. Rhiannon Eades, the public information officer at the ACC Library, acknowledges the monetary concern for many teenagers and their families as the date of the dance comes closer.

“Going to prom is really expensive so last year our teen coordinator, Devera Chandler [at the library] had the idea [for Bling Your Prom],” Eades said. “This is an opportunity for the community to come together to ease that financial burdens for families.”  

Eades hopes Athens residents consider donating their old formal clothes and items that they no longer use so that a teenager who needs a dress or suit could wear the outfit for the prom.

“A lot of people have those old formal dresses that they bought thinking that they would wear more than once that stay in the back of the closet,” Eades said. “So this is the opportunity to clean out your closet and give a new life to old formal wear.”

With such close proximity to the University of Georgia, many of its students attending formal events throughout the year, Eades expects that college students will contribute. Eades said they’re working with campus groups again this year and will partner with Tuckston United Methodist Church. Eades also listed UGA’s Office of Service-Learning, Delta Phi Epsilon and the UGA National Association of Black Accountants as key supporters.

“[UGA students] absolutely contribute to this drive,” Eades said. “Last year was our first year doing this and we had a lot of donations from the UGA community.”

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The Athens-Clarke County Library in Athens, Georgia is hosting their second Bling Your Prom event where teenagers from around the area can come pick out dresses for free. All of the dresses are donated, and the event is run by volunteers. (Photo/Daniela Rico)

The drive allows teens to come to the public library and pick out dresses, suits, purses, jewelry and unused cosmetics completely free of charge on March 1 and 2. The event will also have tailors present both days to assist with adjustments and help teenagers get their formal wear to the perfect fit.

“We had a great turnout of teens coming to choose outfits and accessories at the event last year,” Eades said.

Just one of the programs that the ACC Library has implemented to serve the Classic City, this event will not be the last. Lynette Caseman, an Americorp Vista in the teen services department, expressed that she has high hopes for enlarging the event in the years to come.

“In the future, we hope to expand the event again,” Caseman said. “This year we added in an additional day for teens to pick out items and we also added in the component of giving away restaurant gift cards since we realize that dining out is such a big part of the prom experience."

Caseman and Eades agreed responding to the community’s needs and boosting morale among teenagers is the most rewarding part of the event

“We see a lot of teens here every day,” Eades said. “We do our best to meet the needs of the community where the community is.”

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