Magical Shopping Experience for LAUSD Students

LOS ANGELES – There’s something magical about choosing a dress for prom. Seventeen-year-old Salee said she didn’t think she would go.

“I didn’t expect it, so I’m excited,” Salee said. “I’m excited for prom now.”


What do you want to know

  • Eligible students at Operation School Bell Prom are either in homestay or homeless
  • A few hundred students will have the chance to choose a free prom dress and all accessories
  • The event is in its 12th year
  • All clothing and accessories are either donated or purchased new

Salee is one of 200 students who got to choose a free prom dress and all accessories for “Operation School Bell Prom.”

Now in its 12th year, the partnership is with the Assistance League of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Students are either in host families or homeless.

“My family has experienced homelessness. We’re fine now, but anytime we get something, like it could be like a food donation, it’s great to have,” Salee said. “I will always be grateful.”

Salee said she and her family lived in shelters until about five years ago. A difficult time, but she said it brought the family together.

The timing of the Salee ball is perfect. Melanie Merians, CEO of the Assistance League of Los Angeles, said they couldn’t run the special experience for two years because of COVID.

“We see these young women come in and sometimes they’re very shy, they’re very shy, they don’t know what to expect, but the moment they go through the prom day shopping experience, this pop-up boutique, they step out like Rihanna on the red carpet and they feel good about themselves,” Merians said.

When home life is disrupted, Salee said feeling good can be a challenge.

It’s getting better. I know it’s cliché, it really is, especially if you have family members who love you,” Salee said.

Salee said that thanks to this experience, she can have a prom that she has always dreamed of.

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