“Cinderella’s Closet” is a formal dress clothing bank located in a classroom 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. For the first year of the closet’s use, girls have signed an agreement to be good stewards of the dresses by keeping them bagged, away from smoke and returning as clean as possible. Upon returning, dresses are 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 for the girls to look and feel their best while wearing them.
- 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. This number was calculated from the number 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 the amount of dresses being borrowed and therefore needing to be cleaned upon their return.
- 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 $100's 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 minuscule 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 in need a sense of normalcy and belonging. I have witnessed this result in a boosted self confidence, sense of worth and overall emotional health. When a student has a barrier removed such as this, they are able to focus on their academics.
- Student Population: Hillcrest High School has a 60.9% Free and Reduced Lunch rate (2019), 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.