FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (PIX11) – An otherwise typical gymnasium will turn into a special boutique this weekend for girls in Far Rockaway thanks to a mom who is determined to treat the young ladies like “queens for a day.”
Hundreds of middle- and high school-aged girls are expected to try on and pick up prom dresses, shoes and jewelry – all for free.
Having grown up in the housing projects on the eastern edge of Queens, Angela Hines said she can identify with the girls she’s now pampering.
“I was fortunate enough to become an attorney so I wanted to reach back and pull somebody back up with me,” Hines said.
In 2012, Hines founded Project Window, a non-profit that helps at-risk girls in Far Rockaway “see life outside of the projects.”
Inspiration for the prom dress giveaway came last year after Hurricane Sandy devastated Hines’ neighborhood.
Hines said her family was fortunate: they were displaced for just seven weeks, but some neighbors lost their homes or were now saddled with expensive but vital renovations, like replacing floors and walls.
It was about that time that her daughter came home with a list of prom essentials that totaled about $500. Thinking how hard it must be for parents to choose between supporting their children’s desire to partake in the big dance and rebuild their homes, Hines started calling friends in search of dresses.
Last year, she had enough dresses – nearly 500 – to fill 10 racks with glittering, shimmering, brightly colored gowns.
Not a single girl left without a dress, even though some of them thought they could never find a gown just for them.
“There was one girl who said, ‘There’s nothing here for me. I can’t find anything; I can’t find anything,” Hines recalled.
That’s when one of Hines’ 20 volunteers walked over, took the girl by the arm and said, “I know there’s one here.”
And she was right.
“They found the perfect dress and she walked around with her dress in her hand for the rest of the evening,” Hines said.
Manhattan’s Kleinfeld Bridal, the high-end boutique at the center of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress,” The Jones Group, and KiKi D’s in New Jersey are just a few of Hines’ sponsors, donating dresses, shoes and accessories.
Girls will have access to the free and fashionable array from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Ocean Bay Community Center in Far Rockaway, located at 5710 Beach Channel Drive.
As long as they keep getting dresses, Hines said they’ll continue setting up the racks, hanging up the dresses and giving the girls of Far Rockaway a chance to be treated like queens.