Cinderella’s Closet is a formal dress clothing bank located in a closet at Hillcrest High School. Dresses have been donated by community members, faculty, current students & alumni to be borrowed by students for formal dances & events. To keep the closet stocked for the 4 formal events hosted by Hillcrest each year, the dresses are loaned to the students instead of gifted. This ensures that the closet maintains a variety of styles and sizes, and therefore more girls can benefit from the generosity of the community. With this concept, however, comes the challenge of maintaining the cleanliness of the dresses. When girls choose a dress they agree to be good stewards of the dresses by keeping them bagged, away from smoke and returning as clean as possible. Upon returning, dresses are mended, spot cleaned, aired out, and “Febreezed” before being rehung. This method proved to work for many of the dresses upon a single loan, but as dresses are starting to be borrowed multiple times they are needing a thorough cleaning. Fabrics and decoration used for formal dresses can primarily not be machine washed, which serves as a large problem to give the girls the beautiful dress they deserve. Often, deodorant stains and body odor are prominent on the returned dresses and cannot be remedied on site.
- Planned Use for Funds: Funds raised will go toward the dry cleaning of each dress as it is returned to the closet, to ensure they are at their best quality for each girl who borrows one. The average number dresses borrowed per dance varies, but is usually around 20. The funds received for this project would ensure that each returned dress is cleaned and ready for the next girl who wishes to borrow it. There are more than 200 dresses available in the closet.
- Need Represented: The need to borrow a dress for Prom, Homecoming, LPA (Winter Dance) and the Military Ball (JROTC formal event) at Hillcrest is high. Upon its inaugural year of being available, the number of dresses worn at each of these dances represented anywhere from 10-20% of the ladies in attendance and has steadily kept those numbers since. This number was calculated from the total of dresses loaned and the ticket sales for each event. Attendance for these events also increased this year from past dances, as the barrier of finding an appropriate dress was eliminated for many girls wishing to attend. While being only correlational data, the numbers show a need to keep a high amount of dresses available.
- Academic Impact: Attending formal events like Prom, Homecoming or Military Ball are milestones in the life of a teenager. Prom being an event reserved for graduating seniors, and therefore is a once in a lifetime moment. However, many barriers beyond the students’ control may keep them from attending these events that are intended to celebrate their accomplishments, their school or even their service to the community as in the case of the JROTC Military Ball. The cost of dresses ranging from $50 to hundreds of dollars can be a major hindrance to students being able to attend. Not only the cost of the dress, but many students have expressed a lack of transportation or parent/companion to take them shopping. Not being able to attend a dance may seem a miniscule problem, but these are usually one of MANY hurdles these students have to overcome for normalcy in their lives because of poverty or neglect. Removing this very small disadvantage gives these students a sense of normalcy and belonging. I have witnessed this result in a boosted self confidence, sense or worth and overall emotional health. When a student has a barrier removed, they are able to focus on their academics.
- Student Population: Hillcrest High School has a 59.3% Free and Reduced Lunch rate (2021), which means the vast majority of students fall at or below the poverty line. Every girl deserves the ability to attend a formal dance without the cost or access to something to wear being a barrier that prohibits them from milestone events in their life.