New store offers free prom gear to struggling Miami-Dade students

MIAMI (WSVN) — Miami-Dade Public Schools and a homeless organization have teamed up to make sure all students have the chance to dress the part for a memorable prom night.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Wednesday, the school district, in association with the homeless education organization Project UP-START, opened a new store for homeless students and economically-challenged families at Lindsey Hopkins Technical College.

M-DCPS superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the store aims to cut the stress for students with hardships in South Florida. "Considering the great need, we decided to go big-time, and we created a fantastic store, a shop for free," he said.

Project UP-START’s goal is to ensure a better education experience for homeless children, students who are at a far greater disadvantage than some of their peers.

Everything at the store is donated and put together by volunteers. "Knowing that you made a difference in someone else’s life just makes you feel better," said Project UP-START volunteer Yislen Filipe.

"Our school, Gulliver and Ransom, donated a lot," said volunteer Felipe Perez. "We had to organize the ties, put the shoes by men’s size."

There are more than 6,000 homeless students in Miami-Dade County. The store is offering hundreds of dresses and suits for those who qualify.

7News cameras captured several students from Miami Jackson Senior High checking out the apparel.

Student Marcela Chastain said the store has made it possible for her to go to her prom this year. "I would probably be going crazy just trying to find a store to find a dress that I can afford," she said.

"Me being invited to something like this is really a blessing for me," said student Torita Hones, "because, at first, I wasn’t gonna go to prom."

"[Without] something like this to help me and everybody else out, there would be no prom for us, honestly," said student Mykel Mack.

For more information or for donations call 305-995-7558 or send an email to projectupstart@dadeschools.net.

You may also visit the Project UP-START website: http://studentservices.dadeschools.net/PROJECTUPSTART.