Last year, the Wilton community rallied for a Stamford-based effort called the “Cinderella Project,” which pairs prom dresses, tuxedos and accessories with teens in Stamford who otherwise might not be able to attend prom. It was founded five years ago by a woman named Holly Hyman, and her friend, Wilton-based realtor (and GMW contributor) Lisa Bender, did outreach in Wilton to increase the amount of formalwear the Cinderella Project could collect.

As a result of an article Bender wrote last year for GOOD Morning Wilton, nearly 200 dresses were donated, with special thanks to Ashley Krauss, Wilton resident and owner of a A Little Something White bridal boutique in Darien, who donated 90 sample dresses for the effort.

Bender and Hyman are grateful for Wilton’s generosity, and are hoping that residents will once again dig deep into closets to help out. Each year the Cinderella Project starts from scratch, and they’re hoping to corral the Wilton energy and its closets for more goodies.

“I started the Cinderella Project after I heard a girl at Stamford High say she couldn’t go to prom because she couldn’t afford a dress,” says Hyman. “It broke my heart. Every girl (and guy) should be able to go to prom! It’s a rite of passage.”

Social workers at Stamford high schools identify girls who have a strong financial need. These girls receive dresses for free and are given money for prom tickets. Boys also are eligible for tuxedos, suits, ties and shoes as supplies are available.

Remaining dresses are sold for $20 to other girls in the schools, and the proceeds are used for prom tickets for recipients. Should there be any more dresses left, they are passed on to other local charities.

What can readers do to help? Check your son’s and daughter’s closets and ask a friend or two if they have appropriate donations for current-style, prom-worthy dresses; suits, tuxes, ties and shoes; and of special need this year, accessories such as jewelry, bags and shoes.

Wilton’s collection point is at the William Raveis office, 44 Old Ridgefield Rd., near Open House, from now until the first week of March. If you have any questions or need a personal pick up, contact Lisa Bender directly at 203.246.6986 or via email.

March is when Hyman gets to play Fairy Godmother, which she says is incredibly rewarding. She and her lucky assistants act as personal stylists to put together a fabulous looks for the students. Pictured below are some of the recipients from last year picking out their dresses.

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