In 2001, after reading a magazine article about a California high
school that had collected prom dresses to donate, Rebecca Kirtman, a
freshman at Nova High School in Davie, Fla., decided that she could
One year later, she had collected 250 dresses for Becca’s Closet, which provides free prom and homecoming dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot afford to buy them.
But last Aug. 20, just before the start of her junior year of high school, Ms. Kirtman died in a car accident. That’s when her family and friends decided to continue what she had started.
They realized that dream last month, when the first Becca’s Closet boutique opened in a rent- free booth at Festival Marketplace in Pompano Beach, Fla.
More than 20 Becca’s Closet chapters, including one in the Bahamas, one in Singapore, and chapters in California, Massachusetts, and Georgia, are now collecting and distributing prom dresses.
The selection has also grown. What started as a dress bank with a few pairs of shoes now offers more than 3,000 dresses in addition to handbags, shoes, makeup, jewelry, and tuxedos.
Students can call the store to make an appointment to pick out a dress or tuxedo, and they only need to show valid student identification to take a selection home. Jay Kirtman, Rebecca’s father, said that is an important principle. "We follow the honor system, just like Rebecca did it," he said, "and we will not waver from that."
Becca’s Closet also offers two $1,000 college scholarships—one based on financial need and one on involvement with the charity.
Mr. Kirtman hopes to have a chapter of Becca’s Closet in every community in the United States. "The thing that her project really symbolizes is kids helping kids," he said. "It teaches these kids lessons that they are going to have with them for the rest of their lives."
More information is available online at Becca's Closet.
—Catherine A. Carroll
Vol. 23, Issue 37, Page 3Published in Print: May 19, 2004, as Take Note