GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — The high cost of buying a dress can make participating in the tradition of high school prom a burden, but with the support of the community that barrier is being moved by the dozen at Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Together with the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation, GRPS is distributing hundreds of donated prom dresses to scholars participating in the annual high school dances.

Scholars at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy had their chance to select a dress Wednesday.

“I like my prom dress, it’s really cute and I just can’t wait to put it on,” said Diamond Inge, a junior at GRUPA, just after she selected her dress. “Seeing the dress, I knew that was the one I instantly wanted.”

“The GRPS Foundation is all about experiential learning and we know that things outside of general basic curriculum really make an impact on students,” said GRPS Foundation President & CEO Stephanie Andrews. “People remember where they were for prom and those moments have lifelong impacts.”

Andrews said she and the GRPS Foundation team first collected dresses ahead of homecoming dances earlier this year. The dresses were so well-received that they decided to collect them again for prom.

The foundation has been overwhelmed with dress donations having collected more than 320 dresses. Andrews said the collection process has ended for this year but the foundation is hopeful to find ways to expand the effort in the years to come.

Grand Rapids Board of Education President Kimberley Williams is among the volunteers who helped to distribute the dresses.

“I was able to help a young lady try on a dress and style it a little bit and she was just so happy,” President Williams said. “It’s important to me that our scholars see people who care about them giving them something to make their prom experience special.”

“It was very humbling to be able to help these young ladies feel beautiful,” she continued.

If the goal was to put smiles on the faces of GRPS scholars, the program was clearly a success.

“I look good in this. I’m definitely going to get it. This is my dress!” said Zaire Calmese, a GRUPA Junior. “It made me feel special enough to know somebody actually cared.”