While 14 Callaway County teens were sent to their proms last year looking gorgeous, volunteers at Cinderella's Closet this year are expanding the program to four counties.
Events will be March 9 at the Masonic Home on U.S. 63 in Columbia, and March 16 at 54 Country in Fulton, according to organizer Lori Baumgartner.
Eligible girls will be junior or senior students living in Boone, Callaway, Cole or Cooper counties, or at Mexico High School. Guidance counselors have been contacted, and interested girls can reach out to them for more information and to set appointments, Baumgartner said.
The program is an outreach of Central Christian Church in Fulton.
"Last year was our very first year; we had one school with 14 girls," she added. "This year, we'll have two events and open it up to four counties. I'm hoping for at least 100 (participants)."
Organizers have collected formals and gowns, shoes, jewelry, make up and other donations to get the young women ready for their proms, most of which occur in April.
"Each girl is granted a fairy godmother, and she takes them around and showers them with grace and respect," Baumgartner said.
Seamstresses will also be available to help with custom fitting. There also will be hair styling and cosmetics advice.
"It's about building their confidence," Baumgartner added. "It's all about them. These are gifts to them. They don't have to return anything."
Michelle Phillippe said she has been involved both years in the project. She also is Baumgartner's niece.
"She came to me and said, 'What do you think?' I jumped on board immediately," Phillippe said.
She fills many roles, including fairy godmother and seamstress.
Phillippe said her own daughter is too young for proms, but she uses the project as a learning experience.
"I thought it sounded like a really cool thing, and showing my daughter not everybody has everything they want," she added.
The group is getting together a website, but in the meantime, people can learn more about them on their Facebook page, Cinderella's Closet of Mid-Missouri.
"We see more happy tears with the girls and their fairy godmothers when the girls realize how beautiful they are," Baumgartner added.