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Tue., Oct. 6
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Melissa’s Closet distributes 145 prom dresses


MASSENA — The first day of the fourth annual Melissa’s Closet prom dress distribution Saturday was a success, according to organizers, and there’s still one more distribution day to go.

“Day One went wonderful. We did 145 dresses. In the first three hours, we probably had about 80 girls,” said Megan E. Walsh Hakewill.

Melissa’s Closet, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2008 in memory of Melissa Walsh, a 1999 Massena Central High School graduate who died in an automobile accident in Syracuse.

It’s designed to make sure that prom dresses are available for free for underprivileged Northern New York high school girls so they can attend their proms in style, regardless of their financial or family circumstances.

Melissa’s sisters, Ms. Hakewill and Jennifer Walsh Rurak, and the Walsh family started the effort as a way to celebrate Melissa’s life.

More than 800 dresses were available to choose from, along with more than 400 new accessories such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings donated by Alpha Delta Kappa and Zeta Gamma Sigma of Potsdam.

The doors were open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 49 Main St., the former site of Main Street Florist and Gift Shop. Ms. Hakewill said things were busy right from the get-go, with a line of girls waiting outside for the doors to open.

“Our father took video of the girls coming in. He has one minute and 43 seconds of solid streaming of girls coming in, coming in, coming in,” she said.

Organizers were ready in the store, though, with seven dressing rooms available and the option for an eighth.

“It moves along quickly,” Ms. Hakewill said.

The addition of accessories to the prom distribution was new this year, she said.

“Our accessories were a great addition. Some girls really felt like when they left, they were ready to go. For us, it was kind of nice to be able to help. We are very happy about it,” Ms. Hakewill said.

She said that even after the busy first day of distribution, there are still plenty of selections left in all sizes, from 1 to 26.

“We thought we got a pretty diverse selection for girls,” Ms. Hakewill said. “We still feel like we have an excellent selection of colors and styles. Not only do we have quite a few dresses, but we have a variety of lengths, sizes and styles.”

Organizers were able to get nearly two dozen additional dresses dry cleaned for distribution, she said.

The final distribution will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, and Ms. Hakewill said organizers hope to see another large group on hand looking for prom dresses.

“We are looking forward to it. We will be ready to help girls find that perfect dress,” she said.

More information about Melissa’s Closet is available on its website, www.melissas

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