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Princess for a Night Comes to West Potomac

As the cost of prom skyrockets during tough economic times, a program distributes free prom dresses and accessories.

The fanfare surrounding this high school rite of passage has flourished, and it’s no wonder that prom spending in the U.S. has increased to an all-time high.

Fortunately, some students at  are getting some help from one charity that is doing what it can to help make prom a little bit less expensive.

Families with teens attending proms this year will spend an average of $1,078, a more than 33 percent increase from the average of $807 spent in 2011, according to a survey by Visa, Fox Business reports.

Parents in the Northeast plan to spend the most, at $1,944, while Midwest parents shell out an average of $696, according to the survey. And, according to Visa, parents in the lowest household income brackets plan to spend far more on prom night than the national average.

Tina Bak-Brevik, whose daughter attends West Potomac, and a volunteer committee are currently collecting formal dresses, accessories and shoes to distribute to students who can’t afford a fancy dress of their own through Princess for a Night.

Most of the dresses are donated, but some come directly from stores as samples or excess merchandise. All previously worn dresses are dry-cleaned.

“It’s amazing,” Bak-Brevik said. “Some people are so helpful. It warms one’s heart sometimes.”

Bak-Brevik revived the Princess for a Night program at West Potomac last year. The dresses are also made available to girls at any Fairfax County School, although most come from West Potomac.

“The price of a dress could be prohibitive to some, and this way they get to see a lot of wonderful dresses and get a choice,” Bek-Brevik said.

Girls can also choose from donated accessories such as earrings, necklaces, purses and shoes.

Princess for a Night is currently collecting dresses at West Potomac and Edison high schools and Carl Sandburg Middle School. Collections will continue through May 12. Dresses will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12 at West Potomac and at the school the following Monday afternoon.

Committee members include Amy Bowman, Jean Kernus, Anna Diefendorf and West Potomac Academy teacher Regina Weems. To make a cash or in-kind donation to Princess for a Night, please contact Bak-Brevik at tbak@yahoo.com.

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