In The News


College Collecting Donated Prom Dresses

Dennia Rentzis (left) and Dr. Leigh Bello-deCastro, Dean of the West Essex campus, with some of the collected prom dresses

The tradition continues!

Since 2009, Essex County College’s West Essex campus has been a drop off site for more than 700 new and slightly worn dresses. These dresses, in turn, are given to Catherine’s Closet for eventual distribution to needy local high school students wishing to attend their school prom.

With the College celebrating 50 years of service to students and community, the prom project seems even more appropriate this year, said program organizer Dennia Rentzis, Coordinator of Admissions at the West Essex campus.

“It’s hard to believe this is our 11th year of working with Catherine’s Closet,” said Ms. Rentzis. “I look forward to all the donations we receive and being able to help girls in the community attend prom, which is one of the most special milestones in a young woman’s life. This is a true labor of love!”

This year’s goal is 100 dresses and, given the outstanding track record of generosity, that number is certainly attainable.

Dresses, brought in on hangers, may be taken to the West Essex campus at 730 Bloomfield Avenue in West Caldwell between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until February 14. The non-profit Catherine’s Closet will distribute the dresses in time for prom season.

Gowns must be clean, age appropriate, current, and on hangers. Designer gowns and large sizes are especially needed. Dresses that do not qualify for Catherine’s Closet are donated to local charities.

Over the years, most of the dresses have been donated by people in the community.

Catherine’s Closet was formed in 2002 in memory of honor student Catherine Johnson, a Clifford Scott (East Orange) High School student who was struck and killed by a stolen vehicle. Over the years, more than 6,000 area girls have benefitted from the organization.

Additional information on the College’s drop off site is available at 973-877-6593. Learn more about Catherine’s Closet at: