Sacramento Public Library helps teens dress for prom night


Sacramento area teens will lbe looking good for prom with help from the Sacramento Public Library.

Hailey Luistro, John F. Kennedy High School

After being sidelined since the 2020 school shutdowns  because of Covid, area teenagers are being invited by the Sacramento Public Library to find the perfect outfit for prom.

“Sacramento Public Library’s Prom Drive programs started with an idea from the Teen Advisory Board at the North Highlands-Antelope Library, ” said Christie Hamm, the youth services manager at the Sacramento Public Library. “We are thrilled to be bringing them back this year.”

For many students, prom is one of the most highly anticipated events of the school year. With prom season approaching, many teens are scrambling to find the right outfit. 

Choosing attire can help make the prom experience a little more personal and meaningful.

“I personally have been excited for prom ever since elementary, and part of that was being able to pick out a nice dress,” said Samantha Tom, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School. “That feeling of getting all dressed up for fun events is very exciting. Everyone should get to feel that.”

However, prom clothing is not always cost friendly. The average prom dress or suit can cost about $100 and up. Because of that, deciding what to wear for prom can be very challenging and difficult for some students.

That’s why the library holds its annual Prom Drive Giveaway.

“At the library, we want young people to have access to all the important events, without barriers like cost or transportation,” Hamm said. “Prom Drive fits into that.”

All donations are supplied by the community. 

“The Sacramento community is very generous,” Hamm said. “We have received donations of brand new dresses with tags still on from stores and vendors, and even some long- unclaimed formal wear from dry cleaners.  People donate an absolute ton of clothing.”

Large selections of new and gently used dresses, suits, shoes, accessories and other attire ends up being available. Volunteers check all items thoroughly in an attempt to ensure only quality clothing is put out for students.

“Usually teen volunteers at each location sort the clothing, to make sure things are in usable condition, not stained or torn,” Hamm said.

The whole drive is teen led, with many youth volunteers ready to help out.

“The library is committed to making sure youth have opportunities for meaningful work that contributes to the community, and this initiative meets that goal,” Hamm said. “The library is all about connecting people with resources, and in this case removing a possible barrier to attending something that can be a milestone experience.”

Organizers and students say having youth volunteers helps make the event feel more comfortable and inviting, hopefully encouraging those who need something to wear to come and shop.

“The prom drive is a great initiative to get more people to be able to go to prom,” said Zohair Habib, a junior at John F. Kennedy High. “Prom should not be a financial burden for high schoolers, therefore creating an opportunity for people to get clothes for free would allow people to enjoy the event and not worry about money.”

Programs like Prom Drive can have big positive effects on students, showing them their communities care for them and want them to get the best out of their school experiences.

“The giveaway events themselves are amazing,” Hamm said. “My favorite story is from 2019 – we had two people at one event that shared what a great time they had – they were male-presenting, and were able to shop for the most fabulous gowns.

“They talked to library staff afterward and said how they hadn’t felt welcome at Goodwill or other thrift stores, but the library event was a space that was inclusive and welcoming and they came away feeling very supported. This to me is evidence that Prom Drive has an impact bigger than one dress or jacket.”