Prom dresses are not cheap - a fact Cinderella's Closet is well aware of.
Cinderella's Closet, now in its 7th year, is a LACASA program that provides high school girls with affordable formal wear. LACASA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Year-round, people can donate their used formal gowns at either of the two locations in Brighton and Howell. Snedicor's then cleans the dresses and holds them for Cinderella's Closet, which usually holds boutique days during prom season and then again during homecoming season for girls to come in and try on dresses.
Each dress costs only $25, which goes to fund LACASA general programs. Although, scholarships available for free dresses based on financial need, according to Hollie Heikkinen, the program coordinator.
"We're trying to move away from the stigma that this program is just for low income, because it's really not what it's all about," Heikkinen said. "Yes, there are some girls that take advantage of it, but truthfully there are some people that just don't want to go out and spend $200 on a dress."
Heikkinen said Cinderella's Closet has a bigger mission and that is to increase awareness about substance abuse.
"We have something called a Prom Promise - it's a vow the girls make between themselves and LACASA as well as their family and friends that they would remain drug and alcohol free the night of their prom," Heikkinen said. "So they don't ruin the experience and their memories are good and pure and clean."
New this year is a special raffle drawing for girls who sign the Prom Promise. Prizes will include prom-day hairstyle appointments or make-up sessions donated by .
This is Heikkinen's first year as program coordinator. LACASA Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Matthews-Creech said Heikkinen was the obvious choice.
"Hollie has great fashion sense and is a very dedicated volunteer," Matthews-Creech said. "She has a huge heart and the mindset for prevention. The thing about Cinderella's Closet is that there's a prevention aspect to it. You talk about being safe at prom and knowing your rights and responsibilities. Because she (Hollie) is so passionate about that and because she's sort of a fashionista, I just thought it was the perfect fit for her."
Cinderella's Closet is also under new management since the late last year.
Polly Mallory, LACASA Director of Early Childhood Development and former director of the Family Resource Center, said the boutique sells affordable formal wear to approximately 125 girls at during each season.
Mallory said the number of dresses sold always depends on the current fashion.
"As short dresses got more popular, our numbers went down," Mallory said. "But now we're getting more short dresses in through donations."
The boutique days are scheduled for April 12 and 13 from 3-8 p.m.; April 14 from 12-5 p.m.; April 19 and 20 from 3-8 p.m. and April 21 from 12-5 p.m. All the boutique days will be held at Snedicor's in Brighton. There are more than 400 dresses available to choose from.
There will also be limited accessories, such as shoes, jewelry, purses and hair adornments. Alterations will also be available through Snedicor's.
More information about Cinderella's Closet and how to donate formal dresses is available by calling LACASA at 517-548-1350.