The cost to attend prom has steadily risen over the years but a unique program in the High Desert helps to dramatically defray the cost of prom season by setting up a boutique with beautiful dresses, purses and shoes, free of charge, for young ladies whose families are facing financial challenges.
Rena's Dresses is in its third year of providing assistance to high school girls so they can attend their proms worry-free of the high cost of a prom dress.
"We've helped approximately 250 students already and it's growing every year," said Hesperia High School Counselor Tammy Aguilera.
The prom dress program is available to all High Desert high schools. Based on their financial need or special circumstances, students are referred to participate in the program. Several weeks before prom, the students are given the opportunity to shop at the prom boutique, a special location set up where the girls can select dresses, bags, jewelry, and shoes. And it's all free.
"Times are tough," Aguilera said, "and if they can't afford the dress we are here to help with the whole prom experience."
Aguilera said that donations from the community are accepted any time of the year at the different high schools — Hesperia, Sultana and Oak Hills — but February is the designated time. Members of the community may donate gently used or brand new formal dresses and accessories at any of the high schools.
"We also gladly accept monetary donations and gift certificates or in-kind donations of beauty services," Aguilera said.
The beauty services allow the young ladies to have the full experience of getting their hair, nails and makeup done for the prom.
Rena's Dresses is a nonprofit organization with a team of dedicated volunteers. Their website is renasdresses.org. Aguilera can be reached at Hesperia High School at 760-244-9898.