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Atholton students hope to make prom dreams come true

Atholton students hope to make prom dreams come true
(Noah Scialom, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A group of girls at Atholton High School are working to ensure every girl's dream of going to prom in a dress they love.

Last year, Atholton students Erica Noppinger and Melanie Vaughn formed a Becca's Closet chapter at Atholton, becoming only the second such chapter in Maryland.

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Becca's Closet, a national nonprofit, provides donated dresses to high school students for prom at no cost to the student and their family.

"I didn't want any girl to have to sit out of her prom just because she wasn't able to afford a dress or find the dress of her dream because it was too expensive," said Melanie, now a senior.

Erica and Melanie, co-presidents of the chapter, are two of 30 girls involved in the club that now has 93 dresses available for students.

"These girls work so hard; they're so dedicated," said club advisor Cynthia Blade, who added she just supplies a room for the girls to store the dresses. "They work tirelessly."

Becca's Closet, with more than 80 chapters across the country, is named after Rebecca Kirtman, who died in a car accident in 2003. As a high school student, Rebecca had founded the organization and in her memory, her parents have continued her efforts.

The other Maryland chapter is at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.

Last year, 10 girls received a dress from the club and Melanie is hopeful more girls will benefit since it's now their second year.

Students who do pick out a dress from the club are encouraged to keep it after prom, she added

The club also has raised more than $300 to pay for tailoring services if a student finds a dress they like, but it doesn't fit very well.

The dresses aren't just for Atholton students. Any student from Howard County and beyond is invited to take a look at what is available.

"If they can get here to look at a dress, these ladies are always ready to help them," Blade said, adding that last year some students came from Baltimore County to find a dress.

Club members have been trying to spread the word through social media and by contacting principals around the county. Some students also will be attending Saturday's prom fashion show in Macy's from 1 to 5 p.m. to collect dresses and raise awareness throughout the county for the club.

Prom season in Howard County runs from late April through early May. Dresses on hand right now have primarily been donated by community and staff members.

"We have so many [dresses] that we can help a large amount of people," Melanie said.

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Erica and Melanie are hopeful that some younger Atholton students can step up next year and keep the program available to promgoers.

"I really hope that in the future, the club will be even better than it is right now," Melanie said. "I hope that more people, as the years go on, will be coming to us to get a dress because I think as time goes on more people will know about it."

To contact the Becca's Closet chapter at Atholton, email Melanie at melanieelise4@gmail.com.

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