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Cinderella Project of the Shenandoah Valley

Mission: The mission of the Cinderella Project of the Shenandoah Valley is to provide help, outfits, accoutrements, and services to enable disadvantaged teens the ability to attend high school graduation commencement ceremonies and prom with appropriate attire; to conserve energy and resources needed to make and/or purchase these articles new; and to encourage and build self esteem, in a Christian atmosphere of love and charity.

Community Need: Although at first look, a reviewer could easily discount this program as non-essential in social services.  But please, look deeper and realize that funds expended by a family to allow a graduating senior to celebrate with their peers is often financed on credit or it uses funds that a family receives for child welfare through the earned income credit via the IRS – and therefore diminishes the amount of money that can be put into a “family emergency fund.”   These funds are essential to keep the family solvent through the next year and it is the purpose with the IRS gives them.  When you have a family of 4 and you earn less than $25 an hour, you are in the subsistence range of poverty.   Therefore funds for prom purchases which easily exceed $1,500 a person will impact the family for more than a year.

Constituents Served: The project is open to clients who are low-income by invitation only for high school and homeschooled students.  Invitations (referrals) are given out by high school guidance offices* in the counties of Rockbridge, Rockingham, Augusta, Nelson, Highland, Shenandoah, Luray, Page, Bath; and the cities of Lexington, Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro.  Additionally the project serves clients referred by the VA School for the Deaf and Blind, the Woodrow Wilson Center; and the Tim Tebow Night to Shine held at Cornerstone Church.

Each year, the Cinderella Project serves approximately 185 – between the ages of 16 and 18 attending high school, the Woodrow Wilson Center, or the VA School for the Deaf and Blind.  Then for the 25 other clients they are serving persons with both physical and mental handicaps (ages 16 to 99) who are attending Cornerstone Churches’ Tim Tebow “Night to Shine” prom event.

*Disclaimer: “The School Board cannot and does not endorse or sponsor this material, activity, or organization and makes no representation regarding the nature or quality of the services or activities promoted.”

Primary Activities: The project (a shop/storefront to serve the disadvantaged) is open in January for clients with special needs and from March through May for high school clients.   Clients with private invitations provided by high school counselors – arrive at a boutique created just for them—to have a “fairy godmother” shopping experience of a lifetime.  The store space donated by the Staunton Mall is transformed by dozens of volunteers into an exclusive shop where the teens are allowed to pick the outfit of their dreams along with accessories and toiletries.  A caring staff of stylists and/or aides assist in the process.  The objective is to transform the client from head to toe in a caring and loving atmosphere!  Outfits for job interviews or work are provided as available and needed.

Amount Requested: $1,500

Operating Budget: $260,722

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