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14th Annual Colvin Cleaners Gowns For Prom Distributes, Alters More than 850 Gowns

The 14th annual Colvin Cleaners Gowns For Prom program, presented by The Allstate Foundation and sponsored by Townsquare Media and Shea’s Performing Arts Center, distributed more than 850 gowns with over 300 of them professionally altered by volunteer seamstresses and tailors. Young ladies from high schools throughout Western New York selected from several thousand new and gently used gowns on the stage of Shea’s over three days this spring. They were then escorted by volunteers to three floors of dressing rooms to be fitted before the gowns were then altered, dry cleaned, packaged and delivered for free by Colvin Cleaners to the young ladies’ school in time for the prom. Colvin Cleaners delivered packaged gowns to more than 70 schools this year through late June.

Some of the many shoes available for the young ladies at Gowns for Prom

In addition to the gowns, more than 1,000 pieces of hand-made jewelry were distributed.

“We are so happy with how many young ladies benefit from our Gowns for Prom program,” said Cyndee Billoni, who founded the program with her husband, Paul, President & CEO of Colvin Cleaners.   “We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of Western New Yorkers who donated so many beautiful gowns. It gave these young ladies a tremendous variety to choose from. To see them so excited when they find the perfect gown makes it so worthwhile for all of us.”

For the 11th year the young ladies also could select free hand made jewelry, created and donated by Marlena Gagner, owner of Meraki Jewelry Design. Gagner and friends created The Jewelry Box and throughout the year they make necklaces, bracelets and earrings for the young ladies to select once they have found the perfect gown. The young ladies also selected shoes and purses, which are also donated to the program.

The amazing stage at Shea’s Performing Arts Center filled with thousands of gowns for the Gowns for Prom campaign.
Jewelry designer Marlena Gagner of Meraki Jewelry Design

“Gowns for Prom is a campaign which hit close to home for me as I had experienced first-hand the stress that trying to afford a new prom gown can place on a family. I was inspired to help in any way I could and what a better way to give back to the community than to create jewelry to help accessorize the gowns!,” said Gagner, who is always looking for volunteers and donated jewelry in any condition that can be repaired/reworked into new pieces.  Those interested may contact her at

Chris Billoni, Vice President of Colvin Cleaners, said the company collects gowns and coats for its Coats 4 Kids program year-round at the collection sites used for Gowns for Prom, including Allstate Insurance agencies throughout WNY. For more information, visit, or “By collecting gowns and coats year-round and encouraging everyone to check their closets for unused items, puts us in great shape for next year’s programs,” Chris Billoni added.

Christopher, Cyndee, and Paul Billoni on the stage at Shea’s Performing Arts Center among the gowns during the selection days for the students.

John Izzo, Allstate agency owner added:   “It was a privilege to support the Colvin Cleaners Gowns for Prom event, along with over 20 local Allstate agencies. People from all over Buffalo stopped by our gown drop off site, regardless of being an Allstate client, to donate to this great cause. Our agency looks forward to supporting Gowns for Prom and all the charitable efforts of Colvin Cleaners in the future.”

Paul Billoni commended the more than 180 volunteers over the three days, including all of the seamstresses. He also thanked the following for providing meals for the volunteers each day: Tom Hazlett, Bob & John’s Pizzeria on Hertel Ave.; Kevin Lester, Kevin’s Catering, Kenmore and Bill Hartnett, Mustachio’s Pizza, Kenmore.

Photos courtesy of Colvin Cleaners

Written by Michael J. Billoni

Michael J. Billoni

A journalist for nearly 50 years who was an award-winning sports reporter for the Buffalo Courier-Express until it closed in 1982. He was the former vice president/general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Handled the promotions and publicity for Buffalo’s undefeated heavyweight boxer, “Baby Joe” Mesi. Founder and is managing partner of Billoni Associates. He authored and managed “Robert E. Rich—Memoirs of an Innovator,” the biography of the founder of Rich Products Corp; published 'All In," the memoir of businessman Ronald Zoeller and is currently publishing The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, the most comprehensive history of professional baseball in the city. It will be released April 17, 2020.

Mike and is wife Debbie love Western New York and always try to help others and encourage positive thoughts

View All Articles by Michael J. Billoni
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