Donated clothes can be dropped off at Dress Barn in Secaucus in Harmon Meadow Plaza, at 700 Plaza Drive.
"We know how important a job interview is; that's why we partnered with our local Dress for Success affiliate to help women make that first impression a good one," said Maria Davis, Dress Barn's district manager in Secaucus. "We want everyone to realize that when they make a donation, they are giving another woman the confidence to enter or return to the workplace and make a professional first impression."
And it has helped many women.
When Santa Minaya of Bayonne moved back to New Jersey after living for many years in Florida, for example, she didn't have a job and she eventually found herself on welfare.
After job-hunting for a while without any luck, her local social services office sent her to Dress for Success. "I just wanted a job so I could be a better person," Minaya asserted in an interview last week.
Today, Minaya has a full-time job with the organization, working in its post-Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.
Organization fills a void
Founded in New York City in 1996, Dress for Success attempts to fill void for low-income job seekers. A typical suit can run $100 or more in a department store, money that a low-income applicant may not have.
Dress for Success takes in donations of professional attire, then gives them to low-income women when they have a job interview. Since Dress for Success first opened its doors 12 years ago, the organization has helped 350,000 low-income women prepare for job interviews, including about 14,000 in Hudson County.
There are now more than 50 Dress for Success locations in three countries.
Send One Suit Week is the organization's main annual clothing drive.
"We really prefer new suits, although we accept gently used, gently worn clothing," said Lillian Hernandez, executive director of Dress for Success of Hudson County.
Although the organization has a preference for business suits, they will also accept skirts, dresses, slacks, blouses, and other separates, as long as they are appropriate for the office.
"The rule of thumb is, if you wouldn't wear it to a job interview, then you shouldn't donate it," she said. "We ask that people only donate those items that they themselves would wear to an interview."
Dress for Success also will accept accessories - such as belts and shoes - that are needed to complete a professional look.
Hernandez also added that the organization is in need of clothing larger sizes.
"Many of the women we serve are a size 16, 18, or larger," Hernandez said.
Dress Barn longtime partner
Dress Barn, which has stores in 80 locations across the country, has had a longstanding relationship with Dress for Success.
"We've been involved with Dress for Success for seven years. The mission of Dress for Success really fits into who and what we are as a company," said Donna Baccollo, Dress Barn's marketing manager in New York. "I'm extremely passionate about Dress for Success. We've all been at a place where we could have used a little help. And helping women take that first step is also synergistic with our companies mantra of helping women feel good about themselves."
In addition to being a drop-off site for clothing donations for send One Suit Week, Dress Barn has also donated more than 20,00 brand new suits to the organization.
Dress Barn is among several national companies that have given various types of in-kind support, Hernandez said. For instance, several Verizon employees will be helping Hernandez and her staff sort through the donations that come in from the Send One Suit drive.
"We accept a lot of help from the business community. There are many opportunities for companies to assist our efforts here," Hernandez said. "And we appreciate all the help we get."
And so do the women who benefit from Dress for Success' work.
"They really helped give me the confidence I needed to believe that I could do something and make something out of myself and do something with my life," said Minaya. "If it weren't for them, I don't know if I'd be where I am today or not."
For more information on Dress for Success of Hudson County, call (201) 451-8600 or see www.dressforsuccess.org. Dress Barn can be reached at (201) 866-6039. To comment on this story, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.