Geneseo mother keeps daughter’s memory alive by donating prom dresses

A Geneseo mother who never got the chance to see her daughter attend prom is now collecting prom dresses for others who may not be able to afford one. Her cause, known as Claire’s Closet is helping to keep her daughter’s memory alive. (WHAM photo)

On the inside, Jennifer Mehlenbacher's home looks more like a makeshift boutique. It's part of a cause called Claire's Closet, in memory of 14-year old Claire Allen.

Melenbacher knew Claire since she was a little girl and would run long distance with her.

“Claire was an amazing human being,” she said, “She just loved everybody, gave her whole heart to anybody in need."

The Geneseo High School freshman was hit and killed by a driver last September as she was running along Route 39.

Claire's mother is now collecting dresses for Livingston County girls who may not be able to afford a dress for prom. It's also a way to keep her daughter's memory alive.

"One of the things that really stuck with her mother was that she would never be able to take her daughter dress shopping for prom,” said Mehlenbacher. “That was a life event she wouldn't get to have."

Melenbacher said helping others is, in turn, helping them through the healing process.

"That's our mission and our goal - to just make sure she's not forgotten and everyone who didn't get to know her will get to know her through this," she said.

More than 100 dresses have been collected in just 10 days.

High school girls looking for dresses can try them on at the Claire's Closet event on March 17 at Geneseo Central School from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Participants are encouraged to sign up for the event by heading to

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