'Cinderella's Closet' helps make prom dreams come true

  • Written by Kelly White

prom dresses photo 1-18

Photo by Kelly White

Oak Lawn residents (from left) Gloria Renteria, 14; Jocelyn Vail, 14; and Sky Hope Fuchs, 18, show off some of the prom dresses available at Cinderella’s Closet, which will be open to the public on Saturday, Jan. 27 at Oak Lawn Community High School.


Teens at Oak Lawn Community High School, and neighboring high schools, are guaranteed to feel like princesses this prom season.

Through Friday, Jan. 26, the school, in conjunction with the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, is collecting items for “Cinderella’s Closet.” The closet is an assortment of lightly-used formal dresses, shoes, accessories, and unopened makeup that will be made available for current students in any local area high school. It is not limited to Oak Lawn students.

Donations can be dropped off in the Oak Lawn Community High School's district office during school hours from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. All lightly-used dresses in any style, size, and color will be accepted. Dresses must be dry cleaned prior to drop-off.

The sixth annual event is organized by Maria Vanderwarren, OLCHS’s executive assistant to the superintendent, and Bob Brida, behavior intervention room facilitator and staff sponsor of the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club.

“Inspiration for me to start this was to minimize the expense of prom for less fortunate children and for them to be able to attend looking and feeling like Cinderella,” Vanderwarren said. “First, we wanted to provide an opportunity to give students an affordable option for dresses for prom and graduation. Many dresses are bought for hundreds of dollars and are not used after that. This way, parents and students can donate these dresses and they can provide joy and happiness for another student.”

“I am very proud of how Bob has stepped into his new role as SADD sponsor and for Maria's continued guidance and support for such a great cause,” said Marcus Wargin, assistant principal at Oak Lawn High School. “These staff members go above and beyond to make many of our students' prom night one to remember.”

The boutique, featuring all donated items offered at extremely low prices, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 at the high school, 9400 Southwest Highway, Oak Lawn.

“We have both prom and party dresses available for purchase,” Brida said. “Dresses can be found for use for prom, homecoming, graduation, and dances as well.”

All dresses will be sold for a flat rate of $10, all shoes $2, and all unopened makeup will be selling for just $1.

Former students reported to be very grateful for Cinderella’s Closet, as prom can be very expensive, according to Vanderwarren.

The boutique will solely be run by adults, with 12 members from Oak Lawn High's SADD aiding Vanderwarren and Brida.

All proceeds will go to OLCHS's expenses for the SADD Post Prom Lake Michigan Cruise taking place this spring semester. Students will be picked up in buses after prom, taken to Navy Pier, and from there, they enjoy a cruise along the coast of Lake Michigan. Music, refreshments, and hot appetizers are provided. After several hours, the buses will take them back to the school.

Over 200 dresses and over 40 pairs of shoes were available during the 2017 event, with 40 students from various high schools attending, including OLCHS, Reavis High School, Hancock High School and Lincoln-Way high schools. A total of $250 was collected at last year’s event, and this year should be no different, according to Brida.

“By donating to Cinderella’s Closet, students benefit by helping someone in need,” Brida said. “Not only will they help a current student find the dress of their dreams, they will also help fund the post-prom cruise. It is a true act of giving.”

“I'm very passionate about this,” Vanderwarren said. “I want all girls to have memories that will last forever and prom is one of those you never forget. If I make just one girl smile and be able to attend feeling like Cinderella, then all my time and effort was well worth it.”