Prom dress donations thrill girls from District 214

More than 100 students from Northwest Suburban High School District 214 shopped for their prom dresses and accessories for free this week thanks to donations from the community.

On Monday and Tuesday, girls from Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove, Wheeling and Buffalo Grove high schools are choosing from a selection of more than 400 donated prom dresses of all colors and sizes, as well as shoes, jewelry, purses, makeup and perfume. The event was organized by the Women's Club at Rolling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights.

"We wanted to create a boutique-like environment where the girls can select everything they need to go to prom," said Michaelene Roark, president of the Women's Club. The group started at Rolling Green Country Club early in 2013, and this is its first big charity event, she said.

Donations came from club members, Century 21, CD One Price Cleaners and Carson Pirie Scott, she said. Any extra dresses and accessories will be donated to Goodwill.

"Prom is the culmination of all girls' high school dreams, and a lot of girls can't afford to go," Roark said. "These girls deserve to have their dreams come true."

One senior from Wheeling High School picked out what she called her "dream dress" - a bright pink, sparkly ballgown to wear to her first prom. Another senior from Wheeling High School went with a long black gown and sparkly jewelry.

Fashion consultants were there to help the girls accessorize.

School officials said the day was a once-in-lifetime experience for the girls.

"These girls are such great leaders, most of them are in AP classes," said Bertha Sanchez, student advocate at Wheeling High School. "They are so excited to pick out a dress and not worry about how they'll have to pay for it. The beauty of it is how thankful these girls are. It's great to see them really love what they get. This is amazing for them."

  Students from District 214 pick out prom dresses and shoes, collected by the Women's Club at Rolling Green Country Club. Bob Chwedyk/
  Michaelene Roark, president of the Women's Club of Rolling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights, organized the donation drive, accumulating more than 400 dresses and accessories. Bob Chwedyk/
  A volunteer helps a student pick out shoes. Bob Chwedyk/
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