Prom Gear Exchange hits the road

In its fourth year of raising quality formal wear for high school juniors and seniors, Prom Gear Exchange will visit three schools to benefit as many students as possible.

Since its inception three years ago, Catholic Community Services’ prom gear exchange program has distributed more than 1,500 pieces of formal wear to high school students experiencing financial burden. Due to its success, this year the program is going on the road to three schools.

Students at Samuel Fels, George Washington and Swenson Arts & Technology high schools will be able to attend the event, which matches students with a volunteer shopper as they enjoy snacks and try on clothes for their special night.

“The whole premise behind the prom gear exchange is to help lessen the financial burden associated with prom,” said Ginger Smith of Catholic Community Services.

“We don’t feel anyone should miss out on prom because of finances,” she said.

After last year’s event at George Washington, a few leftover items were brought to Northeast High School. Realizing the potential to reach even more students, CCS reached out to more schools.

First up is Fels, which will have its prom in April. CCS hopes to host its prom exchange event in mid- to late March – but first, it needs formal items to give away.

CCS is collecting anything related to prom wear – dresses, suits, ties, accessories, jewelry, shoes, belts and any other formal wear. Smith put an emphasis on getting suits for young men.

Each popup will feature music and refreshments like soft pretzels and beverages.

“We want it to feel like a party,” Smith said.

Once a young person arrives, they will be matched up with a volunteer shopper who will help them find what they’re looking for. At Fels, students will need to schedule an appointment.

“It’s a dignified, quality event,” Smith said.

Drop offs can be made at CCS’s office at 10125 Verree Road or by contacting Smith at 215-221-2010 or