Cinderella’s Closet Purchase Area Community provides formal wear to young women who could not otherwise attend their prom. Through donations of new, and gently used formal dresses and accessories, they are able to “Turn Dresses into Dreams”. The young ladies are juniors and seniors referred to this organization by their school. Cinderella’s closet will host their Third Annual Give-Away Event Day on March 17.
Even more than a dress, Cinderella’s Closet provides an unforgettable experience. From the moment the “princesses” dance through the doors, they are greeted with an environment of grace, love and respect. It is the organization’s hope, prayer, and mission that they leave the event with a dress in hand and feeling that they are loved in their heart.
Cinderella’s Closet depends on the resource offices at local schools to refer young ladies to them. A letter to the schools to begin collecting names went out last December. Susan Kirkham, Director of Cinderella’s Closet PAC, is very passionate about this program. “For 2018, we hope to show over 100 girls from this area grace, love and respect as each selects her prom dress and accessories,” Kirkham told me. “I am so excited that I can’t stand it!”
Cinderella’s Closet began as a ministry of Immanuel United Methodist Church in Lakeside Park, Kentucky in 2006. It’s an effort inspired by a teenager, their founder, Erin Peterson while she was shopping at a consignment store. Peterson overheard a teenager ask a clerk if the beautiful, gently-used gown on display could be put on hold while she figured out how to pay for it.
The girl asked her foster mother for the money, but a prom dress is an extra in life, and its price was out of their reach. Seeing her disappointment, Peterson bought the dress for her. As tears flooded her eyes, said she would look “just like Cinderella.” For one day, a little girl was transformed into a princess.
Peterson was transformed as well. Shortly thereafter, Cinderella’s Closet became a ministry of Immanuel United Methodist Church. In 2015 that ministry helped nearly 450 girls in Northern Kentucky find the dress of their dreams and renewed confidence in themselves.
What started as one dress for one girl, has now grown. Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah agreed to be a partner in this ministry, and Cinderella’s Closet Purchase Area Community held its first event in 2016.
It takes approximately 80 volunteers to host this event. The organization needs volunteers to be personal shoppers choose decorations, jewelry, shoes, purses, and to perform alterations. There is also set up and take down, steaming clothing, preparing bags with items selected by Princesses, food, check in and out and so many other things.
Cinderella’s Closet requires all volunteers on the Give-Away Event Day be females 20-years or older. To reduce embarrassment the organization has found it best to have adult women. Some of the girls that visit us are in foster care or shelters and privacy is a requirement. Others that attend the event do not want their peers to know their financial situation, or would feel very uncomfortable selecting a dress with another teenager. Each volunteer will be required to have a background check ($5 fee).
“We don’t have a dedicated funded source so we are dependent on the generosity of the community. And the community has been gracious with donations,” said Kirkham. “We collect dresses and accessories year round at Immanuel Baptist Church, or call us and we will pick up.”