Project Up-Start gives Miami-Dade students prom items

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida boutique is helping students across Miami-Dade County get ready for prom — for free.

The community endeavor is all part of Project Up-Start, which makes sure every student will have all they need for prom, whether or not they can afford it.

Girls are getting everything from high heels, dresses, purses, makeup and jewelry, and guys get to pick out suits, ties, belts and dress shoes.

“I saw so many dresses. I didn’t know what to pick,” said one student. “I feel happy and pretty.”

“I feel like the man, thanks to them,” said another.

Malcom Vigille is thankful for Project Up-Start. “It’s a blessing for them who can’t really provide for themselves or their family or their parents who can’t do that,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to come here and get anything that you want.”

Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, who is a Miami-Dade School Board member, said this is all a community effort. “We are being blessed as usual by wonderful community members, neighbors, leaders, those who have much more than most of us have,” she said. “They are here to have the prettiest girls and most handsome men decked out for their prom.”

The free items were donated by community members and organizations as part of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools program.

Jerdweika Joseph said receiving the clothes at the boutique is convenient. “They’re helpful, they care. Like on events that we can’t take out of our pocket because of the situation that we’re in, they’re here to support us,” she said. “That’s the best thing about it.”

Getchina Bebe is also grateful for Project Up-Start. “I want to say thank you. Thank you to this program for giving everybody the opportunity to shine,” she said. “People who really don’t have anything. I really do appreciate it, and I am so happy to help.”

“We are very fortunate. Almost everything is new,” said Debra Aldo-Steiger, the program manager at Project Up-Start. “A couple of gently used gowns, but everything else is new.”

Some students admitted that without the program, they wouldn’t be able to go to prom.

“Not everybody can have a caring parent, but everyone can have a caring community, and you have demonstrated that, and you have taken it upon yourself to change the culture of this community,” said one student, “and this community being all of Dade County, so God bless you all, and thank you what you’ve done for our kids.”

The project serves students who are in-need year-round with clothing, backpacks, school supplies, food, toiletries and more.

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