The folks at the Priceless Gown Project, which provides free prom gowns to students in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are delighted with the energy and determination Hereford High School student Alicia Kozlowski brings to her community service project and their organization.
After all, Alicia organized and sold tickets to the Priceless Dreams Prom Fashion Show on Jan. 11 in Hereford's auditorium and will use the proceeds to buy clothes racks for the Priceless Gown Project.
Moreover, the Parkton resident will totally revamp the group's website.
With all that on her plate, Priceless Gown Project officials figured Alicia was much older that they thought.
"At first we thought Alicia was a senior because she was doing so much for us," said the nonprofit's president, Leslie Collier, who attended the fashion show with her two young daughters. "When we found out she was only a freshman, we were even more impressed. We applaud her energy and are excited she's bringing awareness to our cause."
Alicia picked the organization for her community service project to earn a Girl Scout Gold award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, much like an Eagle award in Boy Scouts.
"I have to do a minimum of 80 hours on my project and I'll probably have more than 200 hours by the time I'm done," said Alicia, 14, who joined Scouts in kindergarten. Her mother, Joyce Kozlowski, is the leader of Troop 2672. "It's made me get very organized. And it's for a great cause."
This year's Priceless Gown Project, an annual event in which any high school junior or senior is eligible to receive a prom gown, will take place on March 2 at the Camden Yards Marriott from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Collier said 300 prom gowns were given away last year.
Because Alicia has been a model for several years with MG Models in Sykesville where she participates in fashion shows and print ads, the Priceless Gown Project is a natural match for her Girl Scout Gold award project.
Volunteering at last year's Priceless prom dress give-away in Baltimore made Alicia aware of the group's good deeds.
After Girl Scout officials approved her project this fall, she started calling dress shops to borrow prom dresses for the fashion show.
Alicia then convinced them to loan her 54 gowns after talking a dozen girls into being models and another seven boys into being their tuxedo-clad escorts on stage.
Members of her Girl Scout troop helped out, too, including fellow Hereford freshman Erika Shook and Emory Knott, a ninth-grader at Roland Park Country School, who sold tickets to the fashion show in the front lobby of Hereford's auditorium.
Alicia also gathered 18 prizes — gift certificates to restaurants, tickets to shows and concerts — that she gave away during the show that attracted 100 people, lasted 45 minutes and raised $1,000.
"I feel a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders," she said after the show. "So many people told me the show was much better than they expected."
Alicia asked Megan Graybeal, CEO of MG Models, to be her adviser for the Gold Award project.
"I reviewed her business plan and agenda, and we laid the framework together," said Graybeal, who has known Alicia for four years. "The evening was very productive, professional and was a smooth show."
Those attending the show were also encouraged to donate gowns, and seven dresses were brought to the event.
Three of them were from Hereford graduate Kenna O'Rourke, whose mother, Sparks resident Sue O'Rourke, dropped off her daughter's full-length prom dresses.
"I fully support this project," she said. "The dresses bring back memories, but they're not doing anybody any good in a closet."
Alicia is hoping to collect more used prom gowns until the end of February, and pick-up arrangements can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.