Starting a Prom Dress Business

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					The - Prom dress charity lives on                                                                        Page 1 of 3

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                       Prom dress charity lives on
                       In memory of Becca, loved ones collect gowns for needy girls
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                       POMPANO BEACH, Fla.                                                            the editor
News                   _ Before she died in a car                                                        Ask a question at
                       accident last year, 16-                                                        "Ask the Editors"
  Business             year-old Rebecca Kirtman
  Nation/World         collected about 250 prom
  Voices               dresses and gave them to
  Handle Extra
                       needy girls across South
  Columnists           Florida.
                                                                                   Associated Press
  Full headline list   Now her closet of dresses         Rebecca Kirtman, shown in a 2002 photo,
  Archives                                               with some of the 250 prom dresses she
  Photo reprints       is open to girls around the
                                                         collected and gave to needy girls across
                       world.                            South Florida.
  Letters              Inspired by her kindness, Rebecca's parents, friends and family
                       have collected more than 3,000 gowns and opened a boutique in
Sports                 Pompano Beach. More than two dozen chapters of Becca's
                       Closet are opening in nine states, and another is starting in
  Outdoors             Singapore.
  Fantasy Sports
  NW Sports Stats      "She would have loved to see this," said Rebecca's 17-year-old
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                       friend Alexandra Venezia as she helped girls pick out dresses at
Community              the boutique.
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  For the record       Rebecca died Aug. 20, just days before the start of her junior
  Obituaries           year, while driving home from orientation at Nova High School.                 Money Saving Coupons
                       Her car collided with a sport-utility vehicle on a rain-slick road             Save money by using
                       and skidded under a tractor-trailer.                                           coupons from local retailers
                                                                                                      and grocery coupons from
Lifestyle                                                                                             major brands. Visit
  Food                 "It was just very clear to me that I needed to do something to       
  Travel               show how good Becca was," said her fa ther, Jay Kirtman, his                   where great savings are
  Tributes                                                                                            waiting for you.
  Comics survey »                                                      eyes welling with
                           Charity Car to Charity                                                     Online Coupons
  Book Club »                                                          tears.
  Movie listings »       It's Easy. Free Pickup. No Hassle. We Handle
  Calendar »             It All. Tax Deductible.                                                      Lil' Ones Annual
  Blogs »                             Kirtman, along with
                                                                                                      A keepsake special section
                                                                             grieving family and      that parents and
Weekly sections                                                              friends, turned the      grandparents can treasure
                         Custom Closet Organizers
  7»                     The same quality as Closet Factory &                dress bank that          for a lifetime. The Lil' Ones
                         California Closets for 20% Less!                    Rebecca ran out of       Annual provides a perfect
Extra                                      her home into a          opportunity to cherish and
  awayfinder »                                                                                        share your precious little
                                                                             federally certified      one.
  BizFinderNW »                                                              charity with a board
  Buy photo reprints     1-800-CHARITY CARS                                                           Lil' Ones Annual
  Comics                 Donate Your Car & Help A Family 1-800-              of directors, a
  Crossword              CHARITY CARS Full Deduction!                        student board, a
                                                                      Home Services
  Down to Earth blog                                                         scholarship fund         Thinking about remodeling
  Health                                                                     and a Web site.
  Newspaper In                                                                                        your house, building a deck,
  Education                                                                                           or finishing your basement?
  Online Contests      The teen magazine YM featured the link in its March issue and                  See our Home Services
  Special Sections                                                                                    Directory to find a
                       soon readers were starting local chapters from New York to                     professional. »
                       California.                                                                    Home Services

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The - Prom dress charity lives on                                                           Page 2 of 3

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S-R Jobs »             "It just seemed overwhelming," said Phil Goldstein, a board
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                       member whose daughter, Jenna, was friends with Rebecca. "I              View the new and used
                       thought someday we would be a big organization, but I didn't            inventory of the areas
                       realize it would happen so soon."                                       biggest car dealers.

                       Donations of dresses -- sizes 0 to 42 -- have come from across
                       the country, including five from the set of the soap opera "The
                       Young and the Restless" and an anonymous shipment of
                       $10,000 worth of gowns from Mississippi.

                       On April 10, Rebecca's 17th birthday, the group moved from a
                       donated storage facility into the boutique at Festival Marketplace,
                       a flea market in town.

Read today's e-paper   That is where girls such as Phaedra Fleming come by
                       appointment to look through racks of dresses to find the perfect

                       Fleming, a senior at Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach,
                       was in foster care until October, when she turned 18, and now
                       lives on a stipend from the state. It is not enough for luxuries like
                       prom dresses.

                       "At that point, I was like, I'm not going," Fleming said.

                       She contacted Gary Levine, her former caseworker, and he
                       directed her to Becca's Closet. There she found an elegant
                       Donna Gray embroidered silver dress with a matching shawl.

                       "Realistically, without this, there's no prom dress," Levine said.

                       Later that morning, 18-year-old Dionne Thompson left the
                       boutique with a sparkly, floor-length, midnight blue gown.
                       Thompson lives with her sister and plans to attend the prom at
                       Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach.

                       "I never thought I was going to go to my senior prom," Thompson

                       Girls who need a dress contact the organization through the Web
                       site to make an appointment at the boutique. They must show a
                       student ID, but no proof of need.

                       "We're doing it the way Rebecca did it -- the honor system," said
                       her mother, Pam Kirtman.

                       She said sharing the joys of the prom with other people was a
                       fitting tribute to her daughter. "Rebecca loved to party, she loved
                       music, she loved to be with her friends," her mother said.

                       Rebecca started her dress bank last year after reading a
                       magazine article about wealthy girls at a boarding school who
                       donated their old dresses to a less-affluent school. She wrote to
                       dress companies for donations. Delray Beach-based Alfred
                       Angelo Bridal Company Stores donated 200 dresses.

                       With the expanded project, "it helps because you can remember
                       Becca. She loved to help other people," said Venezia, her friend.
                       She added: "Like she said, `Little things can make a big                                   9/13/2008
The - Prom dress charity lives on                             Page 3 of 3

                   difference.' Now I see where she was coming from when she
                   actually said it."

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