While prom may be a few weeks away for most students, 120 girls got everything they needed over the weekend at Cinderella’s Closet.
In partnership with Owensboro Christian Church, Cinderella’s Closet provides formal wear for girls in western Kentucky, along with all the extras needed for the big night. Jewelry, shoes, hair and makeup tips and boutineers were all given away Friday and Saturday to high school girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their prom.
Even more than a dress, Cinderella’s Closet offers an unforgettable experience. From the moment the princesses walk through the doors, they are greeted with an environment of grace, love and respect. It is the group’s mission that they leave knowing they are cherished.
Laura Conkright, a Cinderella’s Closet board member, said it’s heartwarming to able to provide this experience for the girls.
“We always say it’s much more than a dress,” she said. “They have a fairy godmother from the time they walk in that helps them pick out a dress, jewelry, shoes and they are showered with love all day. You see these girls come in and they are downcast and a little unsure and they leave beaming.”
Conkright said sometimes in the couple hours the girls are at the event they are shown more love and grace than they’ve ever been told.
“Some of them have never tried on a dress, much less a prom dress,” she said. “They’ve never been told they’re beautiful. We saw a need for this in Owensboro and now we’ve been helping girls for five years.”
Dresses are altered on-site and everything is packaged in a decorative bag for each girl.
Only the girl and her fairy godmother are allowed in the dress area. Once everything is picked out, the girls come out and show their guests their entire prom outfit and Conkright said a lot of times the guests will have tears in their eyes.
“They have never seen them dressed like that,” she said. “It’s unreal.”
Abagail Bunch, a junior at Daviess County High School, was one of the Cinderellas on Saturday and said she loved her experience.
“All the ladies are super nice,” she said. “It was a great day. I am so happy with my dress.”
One of those ladies, Stefanie Belew, has been volunteering with Cinderella’s Closet since it began five years ago, saying the rewarding experience keeps her coming back. She works in the jewelry department, where she said there is something about the perfect necklace or earrings that makes a girl smile and her eyes sparkle.
“All girls are so grateful that you’re there for them,” Belew said. “To hear some of the girls say that no one has ever told them they are beautiful breaks my heart, but that’s what this is all about — lifting each other up. As a mom of all boys, I see this as an opportunity to share my time with these girls.”
With the 2019 event complete, organizers will start looking for discounted dresses after prom season is over to start collecting for next year.
Conkright said their greatest need is larger-sized dresses.
“We need dresses all the way up to size 40,” she said. “Most of our donations are the smaller sizes.”
Donations can be dropped off year-round at Owensboro Christian Church.