San Francisco's Princess Project keeps helping girls enjoy high school prom 

As Vintage High School senior Flora Morofsky rifles through the immense selection of free prom dresses, she can’t help but think of some of her friends.

“There are a lot of people who don’t have the money for dresses,” said Morofsky, who made the hourlong drive from Napa with her mother and a group of friends. “So ... they don’t go to prom.”

With the high school formal season rapidly approaching and the cost of an average dress running around $200, The Princess Project — a San Francisco-based nonprofit — gave away close to 1,000 prom dresses to various Bay Area high school students this past weekend.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see the smiles when they walk out with the perfect dress,” said Katie Zimmerman, the nonprofit’s president. “It’s an important milestone in any girl’s life.”

To help kids short on cash for prom, volunteers started preparing the stockpile of dresses and accessories at 5:30 a.m.

“All the hard work, it’s definitely worth it,” said Zimmerman, who’s been with the project for six years.

Amid blaring pop music, girls in groups of 25 had about 30 to 45 minutes to rummage through the massive selection. They were limited to one dress and a single accessory.

“It’s more than amazing for them to organize this,” said Lupe Castillo, one of Morofsky’s classmates. “I think it was time-consuming ... and stressful, I guess. There are so many dresses and so little time.”

Doors opened for the year Saturday, and the project sported 6,000 donated dresses and hundreds of accessories, including purses, jewelry and scarves. Project organizers anticipate unloading close to 2,000 dresses by the final giveaway Sunday. Since 2002, The Princess Project has served more than 15,000 Bay Area high school students.

With Vintage High School prom tickets rising to $130 per couple, parents could end up shelling out close to $400 to $500 after factoring in salon and transportation expenses.

“It’s an excellent organization,” said Laura Morofsky, Flora’s mother. “It’s so nonstressful. We still have to hurry up, but it’s still fun.”

Girls looking to cash in on a free dress have one more opportunity to do so, at 901 Market St. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Although the project doesn’t require any proof of financial need, girls are required to bring a valid high school ID.

Though prom dates have to stay home during the giveaway hours, Selix Formalwear is offering up to a $30 discount on tuxedos through The Princess Project.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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