BURRILLVILLE â€“ The school bus company hired by the Burrillville School District two years ago is doing more than making sure Burrillvilleâ€™s students get to school on time and back home safe.
Theyâ€™re helping the girls at Burrillville High School look their best at prom time.
To help ease the financial burden of having to come up with enough money to buy expensive prom dresses that can cost as much as $400, Durham School Services is collecting gently used prom and cocktail dresses, evening gowns, and shoes and accessories donated by local businesses, to help cash-starved students.
So far, more than 100 dresses have been collected and more are expected to arrive as prom season draws near.
According to Durham Operations Supervisor Sharon Brunelle, any student who wants one will be provided with a dress, accessories and a private fitting free of charge at Durhamâ€™s facility at 404 Main St. in Pascoag.
"I'm always looking for opportunities to help the community and involve my team," says Brunelle. "Everyone here at Durham has pitched in, donating dresses, handbags, jewelry, metal racks to hang the dresses, and even by offering to pay for local advertising. Durham encourages us to be active members of the community and our team is proud to do so."
Brunelle says one student has already been in for a fitting â€” a freshman who is getting ready for her semi-formal.
â€śShe came in for a private fitting and left with a beautiful dress and shoes,â€ť says Brunelle. â€śShe wouldnâ€™t have been able to go to her semi-formal otherwise, so even if we help just one girl it was all worthwhile.â€ť
In the meantime, Durham school bus driver and professional seamstress Pat Clay is putting her talent to work to support the company's core value of community.
"I didn't hesitate when asked if I could contribute towards this cause," said Clay. "I am grateful that I have a skill that can bring a smile to a face that may otherwise have to miss an important teenage event. These students are part of my life, every day, on my bus and this is a way for me to give back to the Burrillville community."
Durham School Services has a three-year contract with the Burrillville School Department where the company operates 27 home-to-school routes and 34 buses in the district.
The buses serving Burrillville are equipped with GPS to ensure the safety and on-time arrival of all students taking the bus. In addition, Durham provides wheelchair-accessible buses for students with special needs.
Brunelle says the company is also offering the dresses to students attending schools in bordering towns like Glocester and North Smithfield.
â€śWe wonâ€™t turn anyone away,â€ť she says.
Anyone who would like make an appointment for a private fitting can contact Brunelle at (401) 371-2774 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7)