Cinderella's Closet, an event hosted by the Junior League of Williamsport, will be taking place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 23, at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
The event began after the Junior League assessed the needs of the community.
"The original research committee realized that self-esteem for teenage girls was a large concern throughout our community. Research into other programs like Cinderella's Closet revealed the huge financial burden that prom can be for families. The League realized that Cinderalla's Closet could relieve the financial burden on families while boosting adolescent girls' self-esteem," Jennifer Flint, committee chair, said.
PHOTOS BY LAWRENCE FLINT
At top, Cinderella’s Closet participants look through the racks of prom dresses at the Community Arts Center. Above, the girls pose wearing the dresses that they have chosen. Cinderella’s Closet is an event held each year by the Junior League of Williamsport to help relieve families of some of the costs related to prom and to help boost young girls’ self-esteem.
For a small fee, girls will be given a "fairy godmother" who will help them try on dresses and find the perfect one for the anticipated night of prom.
"I'm really glad such a program exists, because it was extremely helpful to a lot of people. It also recycles dresses that otherwise would have sat in someone's closet," Chanel Moore, a Williamsport High School graduate, said.
The first Cinderella's Closet took place in March 2008, after being approved by the committee.
"It was a fun time to take on this project," said Cari Staron, who also is part of the Junior League and was on the original research committee.
Staron has been involved with the event for six years. Flint has been involved with Cinderella's Closet for two years. "Serving as the committee chair is a daunting responsibility, and I wouldn't be able to accomplish everything without the help of my committee members, many of whom have been involved with the event for four to six years," Flint said.
Flint explained that planning for the event starts as early as August. "There are many things to consider, such as finding a location, obtaining dresses, advertising, getting enough volunteers, building dressing rooms and many other smaller details. A lot of work goes into the event and we really believe all the hard work is worth it," Flint said.
Committee members have many memories that make the hard work worth it, including Laurie Craine, who has been involved with Cinderella's Closet from the start. Things that stand out to her are when the girls find a beautiful dress and express their thanks to the volunteers, stating they would not have been able to go to prom if it weren't for the event.
"I was moved last year by a young girl who came looking for a prom gown, who had never in her life put on a dress, not any kind of dress. She was excited and had so much fun just trying them on. Better yet, I met her mother who had also never had a dress on or worn high-heeled shoes, so she was lost in trying to help her daughter. They both were very grateful for the program and the help they received in making her prom dreams come true," Nicole Miele, another committee member, said.
Flint said as a high school teacher, many of her students approached her about the event. "Some girls and parents explained to me that they were really worried about not being able to afford a new prom dress. After the event, many parents contacted me to express their appreciation for Cinderella's Closet and to share how much fun they had choosing a dress with their daughters," she said.
"I felt like a princess," Lydia Mahonski, Williamsport Area High School graduate and Marywood University student said. "It was so much fun to be able to look through all the dresses and pick the ones out that I liked. It was also really nice to see other girls so happy with the dresses that they found. It was overall an amazing experience."
Flint said dresses are donated by the community and two high schools, Williamsport and Warrior Run, held dress drives. "Dress shops and other stores sometimes donate dresses, and this year, Chris Beck, the owner of the former First Impressions, generously donated many new gowns," she said.
In order to participate in Cinderella's Closet, girls must have a high school ID or other proof of enrollment, and there is a fee of $10 to purchase a gown. Accessories also will be available, including purses and jewelry.
If interested, contact Flint at email@example.com or 326-4673. Anyone interested in donating dresses or accessories can drop off donations at Aquarius Pools or FastSigns in Williamsport, or also at Williamsport Area High School, care of Jennifer Flint.