The Cinderella Project is a free dress “shopping” experience like no other. Photo provided by The Cinderella Project.

Teens who needed a little magic to look like princesses at prom this year met their very own Upstate fairy godmothers. 

Through The Cinderella Project, high school students needing prom dresses have shopped local boutiques in March to pick out gently worn formal dresses, shoes, and accessories — for free.

Volunteers at the Anderson boutique helped girls find their perfect dresses. Photo provided by The Cinderella Project.

The Cinderella Project is organized by the Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar. Local lawyers take a break from the legal world to become real-life fairy godmothers.

Boutique locations are set up around the state to pair girls with their dream dresses. Teens simply show their student IDs to receive a free dress at the events prior to prom season.


How it works

Community members can prepare for next year’s boutiques by saving their dresses and looking on for nearby donation locations.

Restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses can also donate items, services, or coupons.

Greenville coordinator Cashida Okeke, a lawyer at Jackson Lewis, remembers what it was like as a teen prepping for prom.

“I only went to prom my junior year because I basically spent all of my ‘prom allowance’ on my one dress. I know how expensive prom can be,” she says. “So now being able to take that and make someone else happy is just immeasurable. You can’t put words on that.”

Okeke takes pride in creating a fun shopping experience. “We set up, and usually that involves putting glitter everywhere, setting up balloons, and making sure that it’s not just finding a place where you can put a whole bunch of dresses,” she says.

At this year’s Greenville boutique at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, guests enjoyed candy and music while they shopped.

“Our goal was to create an inviting and unique shopping experience for the girls, as if they had walked into any local prom dress boutique and were searching for a dress,” Okeke says. “We had dressing rooms for the girls to try on their items, and we even had HOT 98.1 giving away raffles of free Kelly Clarkson tickets.”

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