Prom is not for another few months, but Barstow area residents have the chance to make that night magical for foster teenagers who may not be able to afford a dress or a tuxedo.

Family to Family, a county program, and the Greater Hope Foundation, both of which work with foster children, are taking donations of gowns, tuxedos, shoes and other accessories. The items will be given to teens in the foster care system at a special boutique event in March.

In addition to gowns and tuxedos, Family to Family is also looking for people who can help teens style their hair, fix their makeup and fingernails, said Tatianna Byrd, a representative with the county Department of Children and Family Services.

"As a foster youth, we weren't able to afford our prom dresses and our prom tickets and our shoes and to get our hair done," Byrd said. "We just didn't have the money."

Byrd said donations of earrings, bracelets and necklaces would be appreciated as well. The dresses and tuxedos can be any size and style, brand new or previously worn.

At the boutique, those who attend will register and mingle. Teens will learn how to conduct themselves during the dance. Girls will learn how to do their hair and makeup, and boys will learn how to tie their ties. There will also be a dress fitting.

"(The teens) won't have to pay for any of the dresses," Byrd said. "That's our goal."

Byrd, who had been in the county's foster care system, is a mentor for current and former foster children. She went to her prom, she said. But in order to get her dress she and her friends threw a car wash to raise the money.

"If the community can really come together they can make this a really wonderful event for our youth because they deserve it," she said.

The boutique will take place in Victorville, but a venue hasn't been chosen yet, Byrd said. Kim Hammack, director of the Greater Hope Foundation's Barstow office, said she'll help transport Greater Hope's local foster teens to the boutique.

Donations can be taken to the Children and Family Services office in Barstow at 900 East Main Street. People are asked to call Wesley Sanders at 760-957-1427 to arrange a drop-off time.

Donations can also be taken to the Greater Hope Foundation's Barstow office at 231 East Main Street from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com