Cinderella’s Closet is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing prom dresses for students who otherwise could not afford them. Interested junior and senior girls must talk to their counselor by 12:00pm, March 1st .
Erin Peterson founded Cinderella’s Closet in Kentucky in 2006. After hearing about the organization from a friend, Lori Baumgartner and Michelle Phillippe decided to run the Mid-West branch locally in 2017.
“Prom can be super pricey, especially for something that you’re not going to wear a lot,” Senior Anushka Jalisatgi said. “Price was definitely a factor for when I bought my prom dress because it didn’t make sense for me to buy something over $100 that I would only wear once or twice.”
Peterson originally founded the organization to help teenage girls build self-confidence with what the program calls their “Dresses to Dreams” initiative,which provided girls with an experience that is similar to a Disney princess. Community organizations like foster care and high school counseling departments refered interested girls that have talked to their representatives (such as their high school counselor) to the program.
According to Baumartner, the association blossomed after founder Peterson paid for a stranger’s dress when her family could not afford the girl’s “perfect dress.” In 2017, charities donated about 600 dresses and the program was able to provide a beautiful dress to 14 girls at its first event Baumgartner said.
“The only thing that a student has to do is let their school counselor know they have a need,” Counselor Lesley Thalhuber said. “We take care of it from there.”
Those interested in applying to this opportunity must talk with their respective counselor, who will then get in touch with a Cinderella’s Closet associate and schedule them for an appointment. Once at the appointment, Cinderellas’s Closet grants each girl her very own “fairy godmother.” This godmother is the advisor who will guide them through their 1 ½ to two hour appointment, which includes everything from hair and makeup to jewelry and shoes. Girls need to bring only themselves.
Each appointment starts with a conversation about each girls’ preferences on style. This includes anything from color to texture and length. Her fairy godmother will then bring her an array of dresses chosen by hand from the organization’s collection of more than 2,000.
“There’s a big three way mirror each girl gets to see themselves in,” Baumgartner said. “Once she’s found her perfect dress, she gets to ring this big bell by the mirror that announces to everyone that she’s found her ideal dress.”
The organization also supplies a free purse, matching jewelry set and pair of shoes that compliment her style.
The association provides on hand seemtresses, hair stylists and makeup artists. While employees are hemming the dress, taking it in or having a strap added, hired specialists give hair and makeup advice like how to buff eyeshadow or curl their hair. By the time the girl leaves, she now owns the dress, shoes, purse, jewelry and has knowledge on how to go about executing her hair and makeup.
“My number one hope is to help any girl who may need us,” Baumgartner said. “Even if we only get two girls, that’s two girls who can walk through those prom doors feeling beautiful and confident.”
As well as a night of pampering, the association provides each girl with a little booklet about why she is valuable. It includes topics covering respect, how one deserves to be treated and how one should treat others. The booklet is provided at the end of the night.
“By the time she leaves, she’s usually standing a lot taller, smiling and feeling a lot better about herself.” Baumgartner said.