EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 19, 2013

Merrimack Valley girls to the rescue in NY

High school seniors collect prom dresses for teens affected by Hurricane Sandy

LAWRENCE — While they prepare for their own prom in May, three students from Andover High are also making sure teenagers affected by Hurricane Sandy will also have their own nights to remember.

Stephanie Martinez, Marina Norton and Angelice Gonzalez, all seniors at Andover High donated 15 dresses for teenagers in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockaway in New York.

Carol Lanni, founder of the Priceless Gown Program used social media to find programs in New York by posting a message on Donatemydress.org in December offering to assist Hurricane Sandy programs in getting gowns. Three of them accepted in February — Princess Chambers in the Bronx, LACE Leading Ladies in Manhattan and Wgirls.org in Queens.

On Thursday, Lanni will drive a van to New York with 15 boxes filled with 20 to 30 gowns and dresses, donated by students in Andover, members of the Students Against Destructive Decisions at North Andover High School and Newburyport who led a drive in November and December. The program has also received donations from Ruth’s House in Haverhill. Lanni has also packed up dresses from the racks at Priceless Prom Gowns programs located at The Stone Mill, 15 Union St.

“This is the poor, helping the poor, helping the poor,” Lanni said.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said board member Carol Byrne of Andover. “If it was us, I’m sure someone would do the same.”

Lanni founded Priceless Prom Gown in 2006 while working at Greater Lawrence Technical School. The non-profit organization collects gowns for students who cannot afford them to help them go to prom.

In addition to helping the teenagers in New York, local seniors will get a chance to get a dress when Priceless Prom Gown Program hosts its ‘Boutique Days’ April 6 and 27 at 5 p.m.

Lanni had a personal reason for starting the program.

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