The prom season can be a stressful time for high-school seniors. It can also be an expensive one.
Lainyi Kniffin, a Dominion High School parent, is doing her best to make prom a reality for all Sterling seniors, through her "Prom Dreams" program.
Last year, Kniffin collected more than 300 formal dresses, and canvassed Sterling neighborhoods to generate gift certificates from hair and nail salons, cosmetic stores and limousine services. In April, Kniffin cleared out one of Dominion High School’s offices and filled it with brightly colored dresses, shoes and accessories. She invited Dominion High School students, and students across the county, to shop for prom dresses and accessories just a few weeks before last year’s prom. On the day of the event, she gave out door prizes, like free manicures and free tuxedo rentals.
"It was a huge success," she said. "We had to do it again this year."
This year’s Prom Dreams event will take place at the school Friday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Collected dresses with be modeled during a fashion show and distributed that day.
A few weeks ago, Kniffin began making phone calls to local businesses, asking for prom-related donations. Major stores, like the Dulles Town Center’s Lord and Taylor have agreed to donate free makeovers the day of the event, as well as offer makeup tips for prom night.
"It’s going to be bigger and better than last year," Kniffin said.
THIS YEAR, KNIFFIN invited Park View and Potomac Falls high school students to take part in the event.
"This means we can reach out to more student," she said. "I wanted to get the whole Sterling community involved."
Local business, like Hair Port Ltd. in Sterling, have agreed to offer up their services to young men and women, for the second year in a row.
Last week, Kniffin received a phone call from Caitlin Brunell, the daughter of Washington Redskins' quarterback Mark Brunell.
Caitlin Brunell has organized and founded a group called Caitlin’s Closet, to help young women attend formal events, like prom. The high-school freshman collects party, homecoming and prom apparel to those in need.
"What might be an outcast gown to you might be a treasure to another young lady," she said on her Web site.
With the help of Caitlin’s Closet and the work of students from all three Sterling high schools, Kniffin said she expects this year to be a success, too.
"But we can’t do it with out the dresses," she said.
Kniffin has requested residents drop off their "gently used" formal dresses at Dominion High School, 21326 Augusta Drive in Sterling, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.