Prom Connection asks students to pay it forward

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RUMFORD — Thanks to the efforts of two women, several Mountain Valley High School students will have the suit or the dress they need to attend their prom.

On Friday afternoon, students and Rumford Eagle Auxiliary officers Kathy Boothby and Debbie Bradley carried a tuxedo, several suits and a number of gowns to Room 108 of the high school, where they will be stored for this year’s event.

“I’d been hearing on the news about the Cinderella Project in different parts of the state,” Boothby said. “They collect clothes and kids get them free of charge. They just have to pay it forward. We’re such an economically strapped area. Why don’t we have that?”

She placed an article in the paper last July looking for help.

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“Not one parent called,” she said. “I was really disappointed.”

Boothby began what she called the Prom Connection with Bradley working as a volunteer. They posted the idea on Facebook and talked with friends and families to begin the collection.

“This (prom) is supposed to be a rite of passage, and something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” she said. “And if they can’t afford to do it, they’re being cheated.” 

Rumford Eagles Aerie 1248, in addition to clothing, donated $50 toward a pair of tickets to help students attend the prom, she said.

“I’ve got a letter going out to see if the (American) Legion would be willing to do the same thing,” she said. “The more we can help these kids, the better.” 

Principal Matt Gilbert learned of the donation two weeks ago.

“This is a great opportunity for kids who might not have all the resources that they might need to go to a prom,” he said. “It’s great to see any partnership between the community and the school. Good people who are trying to help students who are in need. That’s really big for us.”

Gilbert said the prom dresses and the suits will be available for students in need to pick up, beginning on May 8. The prom will be held on May 13.

“I think every year, there’s always a few students that you wonder, ‘How will they get the resources to get what they need?'” he said. “There’s always a few kids that you wonder, ‘Did they not attend prom because of the price of something, whether it’s the dress or a tuxedo, or other things?’ This will fill some of that gap.” 

Gilbert noted that the prom is an important evening to students.

“It’s one of those signature moments in a high school experience,” he said. “To be able to participate and get involved in an event that makes you feel really grown up. That’s the lure of this.”

Boothby said students can keep the donated clothing, but hopes they either pay it forward or help out with the project next year.

A letter she prepared will go with each suit or dress asking that in return, perhaps he or she will help find dresses and suits for the next student to wear by helping in the community.

“I’d like to see it grow, maybe include Dirigo High School as well,” Boothby said.

Boothby said that next year, they’d like to be able set up at a place a month before the prom.

To get involved with the Prom Connection, contact Kathy Boothby at 207-418-0254.

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

Rumford Eagles Auxiliary officers Kathy Boothby, left, and Debbie Bradley collected suits and prom dresses that were donated for the May 13 prom at Mountain Valley High School.

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