Cinderella’s Closet

A nationwide organization dedicated to providing the perfect dress for high school juniors and seniors.


Girl twirls in her dress in front of a mirror. Taken by: Cinderella’s Closet

Stalee Sheaffer, Photography Editor

Cinderella’s Closet is a nationwide organization, dedicated to helping young girls, typically juniors and seniors, find their dream prom dress, in situations where they would otherwise be unable to afford it. The organization is stationed across 11 different states, with 18 different locations. They work to provide “Even more than a dress, … an unforgettable, amazing experience”. The dresses are obtained through donations from the public, of gently used gowns and accessories.
Cinderella’s Closet began in Kentucky, in 2006. Founder, Erin Peterson, was shopping at a consignment store, when she overheard a teenager ask a clerk about a dress. It was a beautiful gown that the teen asked to be set aside for her while she tried to find a way to pay for it, but the teenager’s foster family was unable to afford the dress. Peterson took it upon herself to buy the dress for the teen, who cried tears of joy, telling Erin she would look “just like Cinderella”. Soon after, Cinderella’s Closet was born, becoming a ministry of Immanuel United Methodist Church.
Slowly, other churches across the country have joined the cause. Central Christian Church, in Fulton, is the home of Missouri’s location, and is led by Director Lori Baumgartner.
“Getting the word out to the girls has been a challenge. If we could talk about it more and let them know it’s a super experience, it’s not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to excited about and to treasure,” she says. “They should know that if life has created circumstances where they need help going to prom, we’re here to shower them with grace and respect and help them have a wonderful experience.”
In Missouri, Cinderella’s Closet is designed to give each girl a unique experience they can remember for years to come. When they arrive, each girl is assigned a “fairy godmother”, to guide them through their experience. Each girl is encouraged to look through their inventory of dresses to try on, and are cheered on by their fairy godmother the entire time.
“We see a lot of happy tears. A lot of big smiles. We’re definitley helping them know they’re important and we appreciate how they are,” said Baumgartner. “I’ve had girls step in front of the big mirror and tell me they’ve never someone calm me beautiful before, where they felt it too.”
To take part in this experience, juniors and seniors are urged to fill out a referral form, which can be turned in to your guidance counselor. Your counselor/principal, community organization staff, or social care agency, can refer you to the organization. At the appointment you must bring a school ID or drivers license. If you’re approved, you will receive an appointment certificate to set up your appointment. Cinderella’s Closet provides a dress, shoes, and jewelry for each girl, free of charge and meant for you to keep. They will also make minor alterations to your dress, to make sure it’s “fit for a princess”.
Cinderella’s Closet goes above and beyond to provide an experience full of grace, love, and respect, for each and every princess who comes in.