Operation School Bell and LAUSD help teenage girls find the right fit for prom night

File photo: Prom at Shedd Aquarium, May 14, 2008
File photo: Prom at Shedd Aquarium, May 14, 2008
02 Nation/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

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About 40 southland teenage girls got an early start on primping for prom night – an occasion that for many of them is right around the corner. KPCC’s Corey Moore says there wasn’t a single cash or credit card transaction in sight.

Heaven help the reporter who gets between eager teenage girls and the prom dresses they want to try on.

After I dropped my microphone a few times in a busy Hollywood dressing room, I found out what some of these girls were shopping for.

Van Nuys High School senior Gabriela Zantizo told me she considers herself a science geek, not a fahionista.

“I don’t know exactly what style I want, so I’m going to try on several dresses and I’m excited,” she says.

Ana Gonzalez, a Valley High School senior, combed through the rack on the other side of the room. Her prom night goal is to coordinate colors with her date.

“I’m looking at a pink dress,” she says. “It’s very long and it’s a girl hot pinkish. It’s very pretty.”

Gonzalez didn’t say whether that means her boyfriend will have to wear a hot pink bow tie with his tux.

For years, the organization Operation School Bell has partnered with the LA Unified School District to collect and donate prom dresses to seniors from various high schools. The girls who benefit come from low-income and homeless families.

Operation School Bell volunteer Kim Stephens says the students have a lot to choose from — including free shoes, jewelry and makeup to complement their dresses — thanks to eager donors.

Tatiana Sheryl Thornton, 18, of Canoga Park attends Taft Senior High. Her 72 year-old dad raises her and her two siblings by himself. Thornton said she’s grateful that she didn’t have to browse retail stores for a prom dress.

“Right now, me and my father ... we’re having a difficult times now,” she says. “And plus, we’re in crisis so what happened is, paying the bills and the rent, it could be complicated.”
Thornton was able to find a beautiful, long black-and-white gown that looks great on her. The beaming A- student says she likes law so after prom and graduation, she plans to earn a JD degree in Chicago.

For her, that would be the ultimate good fit.