- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

SHEFFIELD, Ala. (AP) - The fit was right, the color flattering and the price couldn’t be beat.

It took Sheffield High School 10th-grader Charity Smith about 10 minutes to find the perfect prom dress - a bright yellow, floor-length gown with elegant beading. And the best part was there was no cost involved.

Smith was among the many high school girls shopping at school Thursday for a dress as part of the Cinderella Project.

The program allows young girls to find gently used, and even new prom dresses donated to the project.

“I love the dress I got, and I appreciated that we had this opportunity,” Smith said. “Prom dresses are really just so unaffordable that when I got asked to prom, I was sort of in a panic. I wanted to go, but I knew I couldn’t really afford it. Now, I don’t have that worry.”

Sheffield’s prom is April 12.

The national Cinderella Project program was sponsored at Sheffield High School by the University of North Alabama’s public relations student organization, PRIDE.

Members Kris Lard, Candace Crane, Nikki Messer, Haley Wright and Kristie Barnes spent the day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. organizing and steaming gowns, and helping shoppers find their perfect size, style and color. Dozens of gowns were available to the girls in a variety of sizes. Short or long, simple or frilly, pastel or primary in color - every shopper came away with a dress.

Lard, who was project organizer, said there were 16 shoppers. The girls’ names also were entered into a drawing for giveaways for free makeovers, hair styling and other gifts, all of which were donated from local businesses.

“We were pleased with the turnout and that all the girls were successful in finding the right dress,” Lard said. “We had dress donations from individuals and several were donated from Promenade dress shop.”

Messer agreed the event was helpful, especially in reducing the stress of prom dress shopping.

“All these nice dresses right here in one place makes it so much easier for these girls,” she said. “We’re so glad to be able to help. It really makes us feel good that this is such a useful project.”

As for Smith, she said the whole experience was pleasant from beginning to end.

“They were so kind and helpful to us in finding the right dress,” she said. “I think it’s awesome that they’d come here and help Sheffield girls because we really don’t get much help with this kind of stuff. It’s not something that most people really think about.

“Everybody wants to go to prom, but it sure is expensive and some people just can’t because of the cost. This made it possible for a lot of us.”

Lard is organizing a Cinderella Project event for Florence High School on April 18, but the group is in need of more dresses.


Information from: TimesDaily, https://www.timesdaily.com/

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