Aly's Prom Closet is a Reno nonprofit that provides tickets and clothing for teens who can't afford them. It was born out of tragedy. 13 years ago, Aly Christiansen, a Bishop Minogue High School graduate, was killed in a car accident. She was just 18. Her mom Becky told us, "She had a wonderful spirit...loved her friends and family to the bitter end. She would do anything for anybody."
A lover of children who worked at a pre-school, Aly easily spoke her mind, especially to defend and help the underdog. She lived her too-short life to the fullest. Becky still cherishes the dress Aly wore to her prom. "This was a bargain buy in Las Vegas, the first one she tried on. And we went back to it after 8 hours of shopping."
That dress will again be the centerpiece when Aly's Prom Closet opens again, at Shopper's Square next Tuesday for its 12th year. Aly's mom Becky Blank runs the show as part of her role with Reno's Family Counseling Service. Things have changed over those 12 years. Originally set up to help the poor, others are coming in from so many parents without jobs. As Becky told us, "It could be your next door neighbor. We've had a lot of people come in who have said, 'you know, the last 2 years we were able to go out and buy these things. We can't anymore.'"
And these days there's a bad case of sticker shock. Prom has been hit with the high cost of "keeping up with the joneses." What used to be a simple, affordable affair has been priced out of reach for too many.
Who receives a dress, tuxedo, shoes and even jewelry from Aly's Prom Closet is based on need. School counselors select those who qualify. Becky just wants them to be glamorous. "We want those girls to have the same true prom experience."
Soon, the satin and sequins will bring countless smiles. Becky is sure of that…she hears from those who wear them every year after prom night. "A lot of kids have said, 'Thank you for making me feel normal,' which is heartbreaking to hear."
After 12 years, what would the girl who symbolizes Aly's Prom Closet think of it all now? Becky told us, "Oh she'd be blown away. She'd be running it."
-written by John Potter
Aly's Prom Closet offers more than just gowns and tuxedos. Students also receive shoes and jewelry, and even their hair & make-up is done the day of the prom. To fill the store, they need many more donations. If you'd like to help, or to see if you qualify for prom items, just click the link below: