Cinderella got to be the belle of the ball with a wave of a wand from her fairy godmother, but it will take real life helpers for area junior and senior high school girls to step out in style for the upcoming prom season.
Soldotna High School student council members have stepped forward to host Cinderella's Closet 2010, giving students from SoHi, Skyview, Kenai Central, Cook Inlet Academy, Kenai Alternative and Nikiski high schools a star to wish upon. And Nikiski resident Samantha Playle is hosting a dress drive for Nikiski High School juniors and seniors, too.
Both programs offer free gently used prom, bridesmaid and formal dresses and/or accessories for students, no matter what their income levels are.
Unlike Cinderella, the dress and accessories will not disappear at the stroke of midnight; items are theirs to keep to remember their magical night. While Meggean Bos, family and consumer science teacher at SoHi, said she would welcome items to be returned to continue on with future closets, outfits are theirs to do with what they wish.
In case you are thinking your dress may to too old fashioned, Bos said there is no such thing as an out-of-date dress style.
"From the 20s to the present, girls use vintage clothes as new style trends," she said. "Girls are creative and can mix and match, add on and alter their dresses to become what they want. This is why we are seeking dresses of all time periods and styles ranging from weddings, formals and proms to the simple classic little black dress."
Bos' desire to help potential princesses came from her own prom dress memories and the realization about the cost of formal dresses.
"I know of students who can not afford the cost of a dress for homecoming, let alone an even a fancier dress for prom. Local dresses on clearance can still be at least $150. My own prom dress was $325 and my parents could not afford it. They were able to give a certain amount toward the dress but I had to work to pay to get the dress I wanted."
Bos still has her prom dress and has plans to wear it this year as a chaperone, but she recognizes that many girls do not have the ability to hold down a job, leaving the dream of prom just that -- a dream -- unless they get a hand from area fairy godmothers and fathers.
The Cinderella program has collected 70 dresses so far and with needs in six schools, organizers are seeking help from all sources, even those with out dresses to donate.
"If we could get businesses, organizations or individuals to step up and donate money, I could go and purchase needed items," she said. "I would love for that kind of support."
Cinderella's Closet will be open for all area high school students from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. March 23 and 30 and April 1 and 8, for girls to "shop" for free dresses and accessories.
Playle' s mother inspired her decision to start a dress drive for her alma matter.
"She is moving and told me to get my stuff out of her house," she said, laughing. "I had lots of nice dresses and had heard of other organizations giving back to their communities with dress drives and decided this is what I wanted to do for Nikiski."
Playle enlisted help online from friends, family and through word-of-mouth and has collected about 125 dresses for the Nikiski dress drive.
Like the Cinderella program, Playle has plans to continue offering free dresses in the years to come.
"I am storing them at the Nikiski Rec Center and can still use dresses and accessories. I am taking donations until Feb. 23," she said.
The Nikiski prom dress drive will be open to only Nikiski students and their parents to choose prom items from 2:30 to 7 p.m. March 2 in the banquet room at the rec center.
"It will be like a day of pampering, with hairstylists available to offer tips and cosmetics samples to match their dresses," Playle said.
The girls may have to provide their own prince charming and a carriage to transport them to the ball, but the dress programs offer them an opportunity to feel elegant for a rite of passage that will be remembered long past the life of their corsages.
Nancianna Misner can be reached at Nancianna.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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