Red Carpet Dress Event at South Brunswick High School outfits girls with the prom dress of their dreams

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The South Brunswick High School Viking Closet Club is collecting new and gently used prom dresses, which will be distributed for free to area middle school and high school students on March 21.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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The South Brunswick High School Viking Closet Club is collecting new and gently used prom dresses, which will be distributed for free to area middle school and high school students on March 21.PHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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More than 700 prom dresses have made their way to South Brunswick High School (SBHS).

A daunting task, members of the Viking Closet Club have been sorting them by length, color, size and formality; dressing mannequins; and making advertisements for the school hallways. The preparation has been ongoing since February, ahead of March 21’s Red Carpet Dress Event at SBHS, where middle and high school students from the area will peruse dozens of racks, see hair and makeup demonstrations and hopefully find the prom dress of their dreams.

“I’m using my power of social work and networking to reach the community,” said Carla Garcia, a Child Study Team social worker at the school, who is coordinating the event for the first time this year since the event began nine years ago.

Community members and businesses have contributed, such as Pierre’s of South Brunswick, The Coffee Bar in Milltown, Target in Milltown, Black Rock Realty Group, St. Peter’s Thrift Shop in Spotswood, Lola’s in Manalapan, and MarketFair in Princeton.

“The response that we’re getting from people is pretty consistent: ‘I’ve got this dress that’s so beautiful I don’t want it to go to waste.”

Thus far, Garcia has invited girls from New Brunswick, North Brunswick, South River, Milltown, Jamesburg, Monroe, Franklin and Perth Amboy, schools that do not have their own prom dress collection, to attend the Red Carpet event. She said girls from other towns can join as long as they RSVP.

“If you’re coming, it’s because there’s some type of need – either financial; or environmental, you want to recycle a dress; or the need to have a fun time on that Saturday [of the Red Carpet event]; or people just don’t know where to go shopping,” Garcia said.

There will be a 50-foot red carpet, strobe lights, a Hollywood skyline and paparazzi cutouts so every girl feels glamorous. Volunteers will be dressed in black and wear “backstage” tags.

Accessories, jewelry and shoes will be available as well.

There is also a selection of plus-size dresses.

There will be gift cards and raffles supplied by businesses such as Hanna’s Florist in Milltown, BJ’s of North Brunswick, Target of North Brunswick, residents from Red Bank and North Brunswick, and each yearly class of South Brunswick High.

“I guess it hits home for some people. You take for granted that you can just go to the prom, but today there is so much you have to spend money on. If you can make it more accessible, that’s great,” Garcia said.

 

Throughout the school year, the Viking Closet offers items such as clothing, sneakers, ties, belts for students in need. The doors are open when an adult advisor is available, but generally students can browse through the items and take what they need, free of charge.

 

About 25 students help keep the room in order. They meet twice a month after school.

Alethia Tu, a sophomore, said “the club itself inspires me to help everybody.”

“I think this is a really good idea because we can help other communities and it’s free … so it’s also a smart idea to get a dress for free. All the dresses are very nice and some are new.”

Nisarga Shashithar commented on how different talents are joining together for the event – for example, she is drawing posters, while Life Skills and the Art Department have roles in preparing for the day.

She said she expects the Red Carpet event to be busy, but a great day.

“It’s really fun to see people walk away with dresses they like for free,” said the junior, who will not attend prom until next year. “I’m definitely going to come to the Viking Closet and get my dress from here.”

Dresses will be collected through March 20 at the high school. Hangers are appreciated.

The Red Carpet Dress Event will be held from 1:30-5 p.m. on March 21 at South Brunswick High School, which is located at 750 Ridge Road, Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick.

Bring your student ID and a donation for MCFOODS, the county food bank.

A parent must accompany each student.

RSVP by emailing vikingcloset@gmail.com.

Follow SBHSVikingCloset on Instagram or South Brunswick Viking Closet on Facebook for a preview of dresses.

 

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.