If one glass slipper can change everything for Cinderella, imagine what getting outfitted head-to-toe for prom will do for a young girl in need.
That’s the idea behind Cinderella’s Closet, which opened its doors in 2007 and is now serving more young women than ever. The inspiration for this charity came about when Erin Peterson, the founder and director, met a young woman who couldn’t afford a dress of her own.
“I overheard her ask a clerk if the beautiful, gently-used gown on display could be put on hold while she figured out how to pay for it,” Peterson says. “She asked her foster mother for the money, but a prom dress is an extra in life, and its price was out of their reach. Seeing her disappointment, I bought the dress for her. As tears flooded her eyes, she thanked me and said she would look ‘just like Cinderella.'”
Cinderella’s Closet soon became a ministry of Immanuel United Methodist Church. Since 2007, the charity has helped nearly 4,000 young women find the dresses for their dream prom night.
Junior and senior girls are referred to Cinderella’s Closet by their school, community organization or social care agency in Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The Liberty Township location serves girls from all over Southwest Ohio.
The Glass Slipper Gala is an annual event that fundraises for the organization so they can continue to grow and service the local girls in need. “The Glass Slipper Gala is a one-time special event to celebrate a decade of ‘Turning Dresses Into Dreams,” Peterson says. “It will be an elegant evening with dinner, dancing, games and a silent auction. At the Gala, you will also have the opportunity to hear from one of our previous princesses, Miss Jacquia Campbell. She attended Cinderella’s Closet in 2008 and 2009. Since that time, Miss Campbell has never missed an opportunity to volunteer with us.”
The sponsorship of the Gala honors Ann Blackham, who was a pioneer of women’s rights in the 1960s. She was not only one of the first women to solely own a business in the 1960s, but also served on the President’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities. The gift of sponsorship is made by her son, Mr. Bill Blackham, and his wife Dr. Dora Savani. All proceeds raised from the Glass Slipper Gala on Feb. 26 will benefit the Lydia Sheerer Memorial Scholarship Program, which is a scholarship program occurring since 2014, designed to present three $1,000 scholarships to girls who serve their communities, participate in school activities, work hard in school and receive the recommendation of their school counselors.
This scholarship is made in dedication to Sheerer, Peterson’s great-grandmother, who earned money from washing others’ laundry, and later earned money as a cafeteria attendant at the local school. “[She] sent two of her girls to college, each graduating with a degree as a Registered Nurse, one of the highest degrees a woman could earn at the time,” Peterson says. ”She knew the value of achieving your fullest potential no matter how difficult your circumstances.
At Cinderella’s Closet, we want our princesses’ prom night not to be the greatest day of their life, but instead be the first day of the rest of their lives.”
Every year, nearly 250 ladies volunteer to make sure that our princesses feel cherished. Volunteers are classified as ‘Fairy Godmothers’ who hold the young ladies’ coats, zip up their gowns and lastly, bend down and place the glass slipper on her foot.
“This interaction, we believe, is the most important, Peterson says. “It is our hope that we are not only sending our princesses off with a dress, but more importantly with confidence in themselves. We want the girls that visit us, to ‘walk in a way that comes only from being cherished.'”
For those looking to get involved, the volunteer positions for this year’s Northern Kentucky event filled in less than 10 hours, but there are still volunteer opportunities available at their Liberty Township location.
Dress donations are accepted year round at several locations throughout the area, their website details how and where to drop off. Cinderella’s Closet is located at the Immanuel United Methodist Church on 2551 Dixie Highway in Lakeside Park, KY. For more information or volunteer opportunities, visit their website.