As of now, every season is prom season in Western New York.
Colvin Cleaners warehouse owner Paul Billoni announced Tuesday that Gowns for Prom has expanded and will collect both coats and gowns year-round at about 50 sites including, for the first time, at all six Erie County Department of Motor Vehicle offices.
Billoni said the organization already has 2,000 new and used gowns that have been sorted for distribution to young ladies who are unable to afford a prom gown.
Gowns will be sorted by size and transported to the stage of Shea's Performing Arts Center to be chosen by interested girls from 3 to 8 p.m. April, 9, 10 and 11. Billoni said new gowns are added each of the three days. After being selected, gowns are fitted on-site in an upstairs dressing room by a professional seamstress and will be altered, dry cleaned and distributed to 77 Western New York area high schools in time for the prom.
Billoni said that the year-round approach will be a boon to people who don't want to save the articles of clothing.
"When you are ready to donate, we are ready to accept," said Billoni. "We don't look at this as extra work, but as what we do every day."
"It's an honor to be a small part of this," said Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns, who announced the collection at Erie County DMV offices. "Hopefully more people will be given the opportunity to participate."
Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger and Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang were on hand and congratulated the Billonis for their service to the community.
"I know why they do it," Mang said. "It brings smiles to peoples' faces."
Purses, shoes and other prom accessories are also sought and can also be donated into collection barrels at 40 Allstate Insurance sites, Reeds Jenss locations, Native Price Truck Plaza in Irving and at Colvin Cleaners.