For the ninth straight year, Operation Prom and its many participating companies will help students afford many costs that come with attending prom.
The agency was founded by Noel D’Allaco to help underprivileged girls find dresses and get their hair done for prom.
“I’ve been in seven weddings,” D’Allaco said. “I collected so many dresses that I just didn’t want to keep, so I called up my old high school in Yonkers and asked if they knew of any girls who might need dresses for prom. I then heard and started meeting people in the community who knew more girls who needed help.”
The agency now has about 20 companies who collect dresses each year, as well as assist in fitting the girls. Some of the companies also offer free hair and makeup for girls. Operation Prom also helps boys rent tuxedos for free. For the past three years, Operation Prom has worked with Westchester County through the county’s Department of Social Services.
“Many young ladies, particularly young ladies who are not as privileged as other people—sometimes in Westchester, and particularly I’m talking about many young ladies who are under my care and custody in foster care±can’t afford a dress to go to prom,” said Commissioner of Social Services Kevin McGuire. “I have to tell you, from my own staff, the transformative experience that they get when they see that we’re able to get a dress for these young ladies. I’ve even had the opportunity to see the dresses come in and allow them to have a fitting and stuff like that. It’s a real kick because it reminds me when my own daughter went to her prom.”
On Thursday night at Eastchester’s Lake Isle County Club, D’Allaco held a kickoff event for the organization's upcoming prom season and honored some of the companies who help Operation Prom.
“Usually we pick one company to honor,” she said. “This year we went with four because I just couldn’t choose one. We have businesses calling asking us how to help. It’s a fun charity to be a part of, and it really helps a lot of young ladies.”
The four honorees were JKFlashy Makeup Services of Tarrytown and its owner, Jill Imbrogno; Le Loft Salon & Spa of Pleasantville and its owner Francesca Vendittelli; Nicholas Day Spa of Pelham and its owner, Nicholas J. Elezaj; and Salon Posh of Mamaroneck and its owner, Diane Mammana.
In March, Le Loft collected more than 40 prom dresses for the organization, with the help of Miss Westchester and Miss Hudson Valley.
“We really wanted to choose a philanthropy that would reflect our love to the industry,” said Adrienne Brini, director of Nicholas Day Spa of Pelham. “So helping out all these girls, and being able to help them by doing something we’re already passionate about is just a home run for us.”
Mammana actually got Imbrogno involved with Operation Prom. Imbrogno not only works out of Tarrytown, but also out of Mammana’s Mamaroneck store as well, and Mammana had been involved with the agency for the past three years. This past year was Imbrogno’s first, and she collected the most dresses on any company, hauling in somewhere in the low 60s. She wasn’t sure of the exact number. Mammana had a big party one night where she collected more than 30 dresses at a single event.
“Everyone has a dress that they don’t want anymore,” Imbrogno said. “Brides have a tendency to pick out the ugliest dress they can find. So many times we’re working a wedding a hear bridesmaids complain about the dresses.”
Mammana agreed, and said they both used social media and their large families to ask for dresses.
“What is ugly to someone, though, is going to be perfect to someone else,” Mammana said.
Recently, Operation Prom also teamed up with Miss New York and Miss USA Pageants, which have both come out and listed Operation Prom as a charity each will support. Part of that support includes pageant contestants donating their dresses to the organization.