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Cinderella's Closet helps teens get to the ball

| Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

In the story of Cinderella, a fairy godmother helps make one young woman's wish of going to the ball come true.

Volunteers at North Apollo Church of God's Cinderella's Closet multiply that magic by providing, at no cost, the dresses, accessories and makeup that are a part of prom.

Without an outreach like Cinderella's Closet and others like it, says Samantha Bond, the program's co-director, many young women wouldn't be able to afford going to the prom or other formal occasions.

"Prom dresses seem to be selling for around $500 -- for just the dress," she says. "Don't forget the shoes, the purse, the jewelry, the dinner before and after, the tickets, the flowers -- we could keep going."

Volunteer Lisa Creak of Vandergrift agrees.

"Everything about prom is expensive," she says. "It's nice to eliminate one big expense, especially for the girls that wouldn't be able to go to prom without us contributing through Cinderella's Closet."

For about eight years, Cinderella's Closet has provided dresses for those in the Alle-Kiski Valley but as far as Indiana, West Shamokin and the North Hills.

The dresses are donated to the church.

"The dress is only worn one night -- and even some never worn. It's nice to let the dresses have another night out," Creak says.

This year's giveaway events take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10 and April 14 at the North Apollo Church of God along 20th Street in North Apollo.

Like turning a pumpkin into a carriage, volunteers transform their church into a dress shop and change themselves into consultants, helping to pair each participant with the perfect dress.

Attendees can browse through racks of dresses sorted by size. Last year's selection included more than 300.

"The consultant will help find a dressing room, show the girls where the mirrors are located and get different dresses for you to try on, if needed," Bond says. "We also have a selection that has various shoes, shawls, purses, jewelry and giveaways. We usually have a refreshment table and music playing. (We) try to make it a fun day."

For Creak, part of the fun is seeing that "say yes to the dress" moment.

Last year, she saw one of her donations, a never-worn Alfred Angelo dress, go to a young woman who, Creak says, absolutely fell in love with it.

"They seem so relieved to have finally found their dress and are truly appreciative of Cinderella's Closet," Creak says. "We love receiving the prom pictures through Facebook and email. It give me chills when you see it all put together."

Thalina Wiles received a dress last year.

"I had a good experience with Cinderella's Closet," she says. "The volunteers were really nice."

According to Bond, many are surprised by the quantity and quality Cinderella's Closet offers.

Her one wish• To keep it that way.

To make it easier for donors, Cinderella's Closet has designated drop-off sites at businesses from Apollo to Russellton to Cranberry.

It's not too late to participate. The dresses can be dropped off year round, Bond says. Any business or organization that would like to become a drop-off site is welcome to do so.

Local businesses also can donate free or discounted prom-related services such as hairstyling, manicures, flowers and limo service. Volunteers to help at the event always are welcome, too.

For volunteers and "dress hunters" alike, the experience is a win-win situation, Creak says.

"Not only do they get a dress, but we get a warm feeling from making someone's dream come true, making them feel like Cinderella," she says.

Additional Information:

Cinderella's Closet

What: Free prom gowns and accessories

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10 and April 14

Where: North Apollo Church of God, 20th Street, North Apollo

Admission: Free

Details: 724-478-1631, or email online .

Additional Information:

Donate a dress, accessories, etc.

Drop-off donations at any of these locations :

Gerri Ewing Styling Salon, Apollo

Clow Chiropractic Center, Cranberry

Haylee's Beauty Boutique, Leechburg

Step It Up Fitness, Leechburg

North Apollo Church of God, North Apollo

Pam's Hairstyling, Etc., North Apollo

First Commonwealth Bank, Russellton

South Pike Cinemas, Sarver


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