Cinderella Project offering prom outfits

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The Cinderella Project at First Presbyterian Church will help local high school girls attend their proms in style for the 16th consecutive year, making sure they'll be well dressed for what many consider an important rite of passage. Anna Moorman and Ashley Blum, co-chairwomen of the project, recognize the significance of the prom to many young girls, Moorman said.

"Our main goal is to make sure they don't have to miss it because their parents can't afford to buy a nice dress," she said. "Prom dresses can be very expensive."

The Cinderella Project collects new and gently used dresses, most donated by the public, and sets up a dress shop in the church's West Youth Building on N. Main Street. Girls interested in a nice ensemble for their proms are invited to come and find a dress, shoes, handbag and even jewelry, all at no charge to them.

"We don't ask for documentation to see who's qualified (financially)," Moorman said. "Girls, their mothers and grandmothers can come in to shop and to try on the dresses on our shopping days. The girls can bring teachers or friends to help them, too."

She added that the project has "a wide variety of dresses in an array of colors, long and short, and all are in good shape. There's a little bit of everything, current trends in all sizes, and we also offer dry cleaning at no charge."

The local Cinderella Project, sponsored by the Women of First Presbyterian Church, started in 2002 and assisted more than 200 women in its first 15 years. The project originated at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has since spread across the country. Former First Presbyterian member Laura Moushey, a Meredith alumna, introduced the churchwomen to the project, and it has served Sumter's high school students ever since.

While the "shopping days" are coming up soon, Moorman said the church will still accept donations, particularly of larger-size dresses. They can be delivered to the First Presbyterian Church office, 9 W. Calhoun St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Dresses will be available in the church's West Youth Building - the white building with a screened porch in the back parking lot - on three days:

- 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 31;

- 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 1; and

- 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 2.

For questions, interested high school students should contact their guidance counselors.

For more information about the Cinderella Project, contact Moorman at (803) 446-9408 or afmoorman@yahoo.com.