Volunteers with Central Kentucky Cinderella's Closet may have little resemblance to fairy godmothers, but they are trying to do similar work by making more than 200 young women in Morgan County feel like princesses for the prom this year.
The group plans to take about 500 prom dresses to tornado-ravaged area of West Liberty where girls from Morgan County High School and other areas hit by the March 2 tornado will get to choose a dress and accessories for their big dance.
"They will get very special treatment," said Amy Nance, coordinator of the Central Kentucky Cinderella's Closet based in Frankfort. "That is how we do our program any way."
A team of 20 seamstresses and dozens of "fairy godmothers" will take 30 portable dressing rooms to the school and seamstresses will alter on the spot, Nance said. Then, each dress will be steamed and wrapped for the prom.
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"They are getting top-notch dresses, some of them are brand new," Nance said. "They are really beautiful."
Cinderella's Closet was founded in Lakeside Park in 2006, when Erin Peterson bought a prom dress from a consignment store that a young woman in foster care desired but could not afford. The young woman remarked to Peterson, "I'm going to look just like Cinderella."
Since then, Cinderella Closets have sprung up throughout Kentucky and other states. Once a year, young women, referred by her school, make an appointment and are then treated to time with a personal assistant who encourages and compliments her. The teens are waited on hand and foot and given goodie bags to take home with them, along with dresses that are no more than five years old.
"Our slogan is, 'More than a dress, turning dresses into dreams,'" Nance said.
"It really has nothing to do with the dress or not going to the prom," she said. "It is all about celebrating that girl's life."
As we know, many teenage girls have low self-esteem issues and don't feel pretty or of value. Some times, outside issues compound the problem. To have this special day lets them know their community cares, Nance said.
"That's why we do it over the top. That is the message we send," she said.
In West Liberty, many family budgets are stretched to cover rebuilding and restoration, said Charla Lacy, adding that for many there is little room from the expense of prom attire.
Lacy and fellow teacher Stephanie Lacy (not related), poured over the Internet looking for some way to help students have a great prom with a tight budget. Charla Lacy looked for tuxedo options for the boys and Stephanie Lacy was looking for 200 gowns when she found Cinderella's Closet.
Cinderella's Closet collects donated dresses and accessories throughout the year and then hosts referred girls from several counties on first Saturday in March and equips them for prom. When the plea came from Morgan County, she said, the dresses were readily available. Accessories, however, are in short supply. The group needs donations of new shoes and bling, Nance said.
"The girls like sparkly," she said. "We need rhinestone earrings, bracelets and necklaces. And we need longer necklaces for the plus-size girls."
Any donated money left over will be given to the schools to help with other prom needs, Nance said.
"All money donated for Morgan County will go to Morgan County," she said.
If young women in other counties hit by the tornado need a dress, Charla Lacy asked that they call the Morgan County High School to make an appointment for Saturday. Call the school at (606) 743-8052.
Because the tornado took out the florists in West Liberty, Charla Lacy suggested that some money could go to creating live or silk flower arrangements or bouquets.
"The art teacher has agreed to help the students create some."
Nance, who is also Youth Services Center Coordinator for Franklin County Schools, said Cinderella's Closet is in its third year and it is all about helping young women feel loved.
And that is just fine by Charla Lacy.
"We are really happy they are coming," she said.