Non profit organization provides prom dresses to girls in need

by Molly Quinn, ’15

Envision the perfect pre-prom scenario: a stretch limousine arrives at the gathering point to pick up lavishly-dressed couples, fresh from the throes of camera-greedy parents lining them up for endless staged photo opportunities. Handbags containing mirrors and bright red lipstick are whipped out as the last-minute prep comes to an end. Then it’s off to prom, a fun-filled night of dancing, music, laughter and memories to last a lifetime. Sounds just like a fairy tale, from beginning to end—picture perfect.

For many, prom is a highly-anticipated event. However, a number of teen girls in Central Ohio choose not to attend the dance because they do not have the means to purchase a dress for the occasion. This is where Fairy Goodmothers, an annual charity with the goal of making everyone’s prom a night to remember, waves its wand and works its magic.

UAHS students have been improving the confidence of central Ohio girls by volunteering with this charity.

Senior Armonde Moore held a dress drive that collected dresses for the girls at Cristo Rey Columbus, a private school that offers scholarships and first-rate education to underprivileged kids, as her capstone project.

Fairy Goodmothers, Help out“[Cristo Rey] held its first dance in the fall so the dresses I collected were set up into a boutique at the school and the girls got to pick out the dresses, shoes, and/or accessories they wanted to wear,” Moore said.

Moore found the opportunity to give back to her community through the donation of dresses to be memorable and rewarding.

“When I set up the boutique at the school, I was able to help the girls search through the dresses,” Moore said. “They were all so grateful to have this opportunity.”

With the multitude of leftover dresses raised by Moore, she decided to donate them to the Fairy Goodmothers Cinderella’s Closet Boutique, a pop-up store located at the Columbus City Schools Enrollment Building on the Fort Hayes campus.

Anne Houser, president of Fairy Goodmothers in Columbus, said the easiest way to get involved with the charity during high school is by spreading the word and organizing dress drives with schools, churches or sports teams— and encourages students to get involved by stocking Cinderella’s Closet Boutique.

“[Students] have the most current, on-trend, stylish dresses that girls love,” Houser said.

Once a student turns 21-years-old, they are welcome to come back and volunteer as a personal shopper— helping girls find a suitable prom dress.

“A number of our volunteers originally came to us as high school students shopping for their prom dresses at the boutique,” Houser said, “and now as adults they are eager to come back as a volunteer to ‘pay it forward’ and help another girl find the dress of her dreams.”

All of the dresses at Fairy Goodmothers come at no cost to the girls or their families.

“People are always surprised to learn that girls do not need to show any proof of financial need to visit Cinderella’s Closet Boutique. There is no ‘qualification process.’ Any girl that does not have the means to acquire a prom dress is welcome to shop with us,” Houser said. “[In fact] some of the most memorable moments involve girls and moms that come to Cinderella’s Closet and don’t realize that all of our dresses are free.”

Though a prom dress may simply be a dress only worn once, both Moore and Houser agree that the perfect dress has a significant impact on the confidence and spirit of underprivileged high school girls.

“Every girl wants to play dress up for a night and feel like a princess [at her prom],” Moore said. “A prom dress gives them the ability to feel truly beautiful, and that builds their confidence.”

Similarly, Houser is certain of the importance of a prom dress on a girl’s pride.

“The mission of Fairy Goodmothers is to improve the self-esteem of central Ohio high school girls,” Houser said. “Without question, the best part of being involved in Fairy Goodmothers is seeing girls walk out of the boutique with the prom dress of their dreams, feeling beautiful, wearing a huge smile.”