SHIPPENSBURG — The cost of going to a high school prom can escalate quickly, but members of Tau Kappa, the women’s athletic honor society at Shippensburg University, want to make sure every girl can afford to attend her prom.

Their solution is Project Prom Dress, which will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Heiges Field House on the university campus. The event, now in its fourth year, offers low-cost prom dresses and accessories to girls in the Shippensburg, Chambersburg, Big Spring and Carlisle school districts.

“It’s expensive getting your hair done, getting your nails done, buying shoes and an expensive dress,” said Miranda Fisher, sorority adviser.

Dresses and formal gowns will be available in a range of sizes, styles and colors at prices of $5 to $30. Accessories like jewelry, shoes and purses are priced from $2 to $15.

“We have a pretty good stockpile,” Fisher said. “Everything that doesn’t sell one year goes to the next year’s sale, and we get new donations (each year) of dresses from our members and the community.”

Girls will also have opportunities to win door prizes at Project Prom Dress.

Fisher said prizes are donated by local businesses, like nail salons and hair studios, for discounted services. New this year will be discounts to area restaurants for students who wish to dine before prom.

“We eventually want to go out to businesses (in other areas) to make it more appealing for girls who don’t live in Shippensburg,” she said.

Proceeds will benefit the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Fisher said she hopes to raise at least $500, but “$1,000 would be great.”

According to Fisher, Project Prom Dress started as a way to offer low-cost formal dresses to girls who may not have been able to otherwise afford them. In today’s economy, however, the event has become increasingly popular as girls search for bargains.

“We thought this was a way we could help girls buy a gorgeous dress without spending a fortune,” said Tau Kappa president Liz French. “We wanted to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a great prom.”

French said many parents have expressed appreciation for the event, and other people are grateful for the opportunity to donate dresses.

“Most people will never wear their prom dress again but don’t just want to get rid of it, so by donating to us, (it) makes them feel good knowing it is going to put a smile on someone else’s face,” she said.

Sorority members decided to hold Project Prom Dress earlier in March this year “to try to target more people,” Fisher said. Last year’s event was held at the end of April, and most girls had already bought their dresses by then, she said.

Sorority members are still accepting donations of gently used homecoming, bridesmaid and prom dresses, and accessories. Items can be placed in a collection box outside the administrative offices in Heiges Field House.

For more information about the event or to make a donation, contact French at or Fisher at

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