PROGRAM/ EVENT: Cinderella Project of Maine: Prom Dress Giveaway
EVENT TIME/ DATE: March and April 2023
EVENT LOCATION: Statewide
DESCRIPTION: The Cinderella Project of Maine, an initiative of Waldo CAP, announces upcoming event dates in March and April for Prom Dress Giveaways hosted throughout the state.
BELFAST – The Cinderella Project of Maine, an initiative of Waldo CAP, announces upcoming event dates in March and April for Prom Dress Giveaways. Free prom dresses will be available to all Maine high school students at three sites located across the state. Some sites may operate by appointment only. Please, contact event organizers, or find site-specific details online in advance of event attendance.
The first giveaway events will be hosted by the Aroostook County Action Program from their office, located on the 3rd floor of 480 Main St. in Presque Isle, ME, on Sat. March 4th and from Thurs., March 9th to Sat. the 11th. Gardiner Area High School is slated to host their event on Sun., April 2nd. Waldo CAP’s event, sponsored in 2023 by First National Bank and First National Bank Wealth Management, will be held Sat., April 15th at the Wentworth Event Center, 139 Searsport Ave., Belfast, ME. Please, contact Waldo CAP at (207) 338-6809 with questions about events or to book an appointment.
The project, which began in 2006 as a grassroots effort to provide free prom dresses to high school seniors in Waldo County, ME, has grown in the last two decades to distribute hundreds of dresses each year during prom season to students statewide. In 2009, Waldo Community Action Partners, a 501(c)3 non-profit operating in Belfast, ME, with a mission to promote economic stability and improve the lives of low-income residents, took ownership of the Cinderella Project. The agency set out to expand the project’s reach by enlisting two sister sites: one serving central Maine out of the Gardiner Area High School and another located in Aroostook County, coordinated in partnership with the Aroostook County Action Program.
Last year more than 250 new and gently used dresses were given out from the three sites, and students representing 11 of Maine’s 16 counties attended events. This year project organizers hope to increase event attendance. Allison Harrell, Community Partnerships Coordinator and project organizer with Waldo CAP, remarked, “we want to spread the word about all of this year’s giveaway events early and try to reach as much of Maine as possible. We take calls all year from people across the state looking for a dress and who are willing to make a trip for one. Sometimes they’ve just missed one of the dates, and unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to pull dresses back out of storage after the events.”
Dresses are kept bagged, hung, and organized by size and style in storage for most of the year. Volunteers take on the cumbersome task of unpacking and moving more than 1,000 dresses from storage units to be set up for the one-day event in Belfast annually. The Wentworth Event Center, a popular wedding venue located on the Belfast waterfront, has donated the use of its event space to the project since 2021. “We only have a week to move dresses, set up the space, review our inventory (including any incoming donations), and host the event,” said Harrell, “it’s a big push, and we really couldn’t pull it off without our volunteers.” One giveaway event day generally requires 18-20 volunteers, affectionately referred to as “Fairy Godmothers,” helping to check students in and out, make minor alterations, and, of course, find the perfect dress. The day after the event any remaining dresses are packed away and returned to storage well before the stroke of midnight.
Up in the County, all of that is changing as the Aroostook County Action Program has designated a portion of newly acquired office space to The Cinderella Project of Maine Comes to Aroostook, ACAP’s leg of the Cinderella Project. The space, located on the 3rd floor of the new building, will remain dedicated year-round allowing ACAP to book appointments outside of the project’s regular season and host expanded giveaway events.
Waldo CAP continues to seek new partners to organize giveaway events in other parts of the state. Belfast’s 2022 event attracted students from as far as Cumberland and Piscataquis Counties. “We’d like to see those students served closer to where they live, and right now we have the inventory to start a new site,” Harrell explained. Storage issues are the most persistent challenge for onboarding new partners. Still, Harrell is hopeful that the right partner will surface, asserting, “this project has stood the test of time and proven its value to Maine residents. Putting on the event is a community effort, but one that folks really enjoy and are uplifted by. I’d love to talk to anyone interested in becoming a partner.”
Day’s Jewelers throughout Maine have partnered with the Cinderella Project to serve as year-round collection sites for dress donations. Dresses can be dropped off at any Maine Day’s Jewelers location during regular business hours. Those interested in donating can also reach out directly to WCAP at (207) 338-6809 or ACAP at (207) 764-3721. Waldo CAP is currently sourcing donations for plus-size prom dresses, jewelry, handbags, and dress shoes before their April event.
For more information, contact Allison Harrell at (207) 338-6809 or visit facebook.com/cinderellaprojectmaine. The Cinderella Project of Maine is an initiative of Waldo Community Actions Partners, a private 501(c)(3) non-profit located in Belfast, Maine. Your donations are tax-deductible.