Prom gown collection underway

As an extension of the Christmas in Kentucky program, Laura Kuntz of St. Marys is requesting any donations of prom gowns, wedding dresses and accessories to distribute to needy girls in poverty-stricken Beatyville, KY. "I used to hear of high school girls that wanted to attend the prom but couldn't afford a dress to go, so I would make purchases here and send them down," said Kuntz, a kindergarten teacher at St. Marys Catholic Elementary School. "The need became so overwhelming that I began the gown collection."Kuntz has been collecting items for the Christmas in Kentucky program for 15 years. As part of the program, she collects toys and monetary donations for needy children, which she delivers and distributes each year, along with help from a local human services staff member from the area. The counties serviced by Kuntz's project are two of the poorest counties in the U.S.Now in her third year of collecting dresses, Kuntz said the response and support from the St. Marys Area was "terrific." Kuntz collected 90 gowns during the first year of the project and 72 gowns last year. In the past, gowns were delivered to the local high school in Beatyville and distributed by its principal, Rhonda Estes. Kuntz plans to collect any and all gowns, dresses and accessories throughout the year; however, her first trip to Kentucky this year is scheduled for the beginning of April, as the high school's prom is held in May. All dresses may be dropped off at the St. Marys Catholic Elementary School on Queens Road or at her home at 586 Church St., St. Marys. Any questions may be directed at Kuntz by contacting her at her home at 781-3613 or the school at 834-4169.