Cindy Castaneda was shopping for prom dresses Saturday, and a dark blue one laid out on a table caught her eye.
“A dress like that is almost $800,” said Castaneda, a Freeport High School senior.
The price tag for her: $0.
Castaneda, 18, was browsing the dress selection at the “Dream Prom Boutique” at Freeport High School in Freeport, where about 110 high school seniors chose from new dresses, suits, shirts and other attire for the high school rite of passage.
The event, held by volunteers from the Nassau County Police Hispanic Society and the Nassau County Association of Women Police, helps local teens afford their big night in style.
The boutique “can help you get a dress and you don’t have to pay a lot” at another store, Castaneda said. “It helps a lot of people.”
Victoria Ojeda, president of the Nassau County Police Hispanic Society, said about 80 new suits and 600 to 700 dresses — along with shoes, bags, makeup and jewelry — were donated by the police department, police fraternal groups, and community members during the last three months.
“Some of these dresses are between $300 to $400,” Ojeda said. “To see faces light up when they find the dresses they want and the color they want, and they find shoes and jewelry together, it makes all this hard work worth it.”
Friends, parents and volunteers gushed as teen girls modeled their chosen dresses in the fitting area.
Priscilla Francois, 17, of Elmont, lit up as she held her crème-colored prom dress, which she picked because it matched her skin tone, she said.
Francois probably would not have been able to find or possibly afford a dress like the one she picked, she said. Now with her dress selected, Francois could hardly wait for prom night.
“I’m really looking forward to [it] because the dress is the most important thing,” Francois said. “Once you get your dress, everything is calmer.”
Libin Varughese, 18, of Elmont, was trying on several new suit jackets, looking for the right fit.
A senior at Sewanhaka Central High School in Floral Park, Varughese said it was already “extremely expensive” to get ready for prom, so the program was a big help.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to prom or not,” he said, “but [this] helped me make up my mind so that I’m going now.”