Teens' store takes the pain out of shopping for prom


April 25, 2000|By Pamela Woolford | Pamela Woolford,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN THE SPRING OF 1993, Ellen Barth, a student at Atholton High School, was preparing to attend her junior prom when she was struck by a thought: Students spend a great deal of money on this one-day event.

Ellen addressed the incongruity.

At 16, she founded Project PROMise, a temporary store that sells nearly new formal dresses during prom and homecoming seasons at a fraction of the original price.

The dresses are donated or consigned to the shop and proceeds are given to the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

Both organizations run local shelters.

The store, which is in Kings Contrivance Village Center this prom season, is a tradition carried on by Toba Barth, Ellen's mother.

Run by student volunteers, the shop occupies space donated by Columbia Management Inc., a subsidiary of the Rouse Co.

Bet Aviv Congregation, which meets at Amherst House in King Contrivance, will staff the store for a day as part of its Mitzvah (good deed) Day.

"The whole community seems to have embraced it," said Toba Barth. "It is a communitywide effort."

And the effort has paid off: Since 1993, Project PROMise has raised more than $10,000 for Grassroots and the Domestic Violence Center.

Barth is adult sponsor to a volunteer management team of four high school students: Christy Mercer, a Hammond High School sophomore, publicity chairwoman; Darcey Ingram, also a sophomore at Hammond High, store operations chairwoman; Annemarie Paxton, an Oakland Mills High School junior, finance chairwoman; and Christiana Yunkunis, a Centennial High School junior, volunteer coordinator.

The four students volunteered as sales staff last year and said they felt so good about the work that they approached Barth about forming a management team.

"It's a real life experience," Christiana said.

This year, students from Oakland Mills, Hammond, Long Reach, Atholton, Wilde Lake and Centennial high schools staff the shop.

Project PROMise needs student and adult volunteers this season to help with inventory, packing up the store and planning.

"It gives students a sense of responsibility, a sense of caring and a sense of business -- and just a really good sense of themselves," Barth said.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays through May 13 and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Information: Toba Barth, 301-596-5833.

Senior dancing

If you have too much (rag)time on your hands, boogie-woogie over to the East Columbia 50+ Center for a dance through the decades of World War I and World War II at 12: 30 p.m. May 5.

The Kinetics Dance Studio will guide seniors through the dances and fashions of those decades.

The cost is $2.

The center will offer swing and social dance classes from 3 p.m. to 4: 15 p.m. Thursdays, beginning May 4. No partners are necessary.

The cost is $16 for the six-week session.

The center is in the East Columbia library branch, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia.

Information: 410-313-7279.

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