Amy Lewin-Epstein thinks the expense of a dress shouldn’t keep a teenage girl home on prom night. Lewin-Epstein, a fashion teacher at Freehold Township High School (FTHS), oversees a group of 20 student volunteers in managing the school’s chapter of Becca’s Closet. The national nonprofit collects donations of formal dresses from individuals and stores and provides those dresses to students in need.
“The most wonderful part of this is two-fold: it’s seeing the smiles on the faces of the girls who come in choose their dresses, as well as seeing the satisfaction my girls who run and are in involved in the chapter get,” Lewin-Epstein said.
Area residents and business owners have responded generously over the years and the FTHS chapter of Becca’s Closet currently has about 200 new and gently used dresses in stock, Lewin-Epstein said. What she would like to see now, she said, is for more girls to stop in and find their dream prom dress. Only three teens have visited the classroom where the gowns are housed in recent weeks.
“It upsets me knowing what the economy is like that more people aren’t taking advantage,” Lewin-Epstein said. “Our goal is to provide dresses. We really want to promote that we’re here.”
The FTHS group is one of five chapters of Becca’s Closet located in New Jersey, according to the organization’s Web site. In the five years since the chapter was founded, the group has shipped dresses to girls from around the tri-state area, as well as provided gowns to local teens.
The FTHS Becca’s Closet has also assisted local nonprofits by donating formalwear. Last year, an area women’s shelter contacted Lewin-Epstein about obtaining dresses for a program graduation.
“The women were have their graduation and they decided they wanted it to be formal. We were able to give them 18 dresses,” she said.
The dress selections come in a variety of colors and styles currently in fashion, Lewin-Epstein said.
In her role as a fashion teacher, Lewin-Epstein recently helped organize a fashion show featuring selections of prom gowns from David’s Bridal.
“One of the dresses we had in the fashion show was almost identical to one we have on the [Becca’s Closet] rack,” she said.
The student volunteers help maintain the impressive selection of dresses. The students catalogue the dresses, reach out to stores to get donations, and solicit local dry cleaners to donate their services, Lewin-Epstein said.
When a girl in search of a prom dress contacts the FTHS chapter of Becca’s Closet, the students will assist in helping her pick out a dress.
Those interested in a prom gown from Becca’s Closet may schedule a confidential appointment by calling Lewin-Epstein at 732-431-8460 ext. 3105 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The FTHS Becca’s Closet is available to Freehold Regional High School District students or anyone outside of the district with a school identification card. Students do not have to give evidence of financial need. Donations to Becca’s Closet may be made by reaching out to Lewin-Epstein at the contact information above.