February 12, 2001
contained in this story for the Cinderella Project is no longer current
(as of Jan. 2004) and no further information is known about Atlanta's Cinderella Project.
Please visit www.glassslipperproject.org/yostate.htm for information on other similar projects
where you can donate or go for prom dresses.
By Stephanie Sonnenfeld firstname.lastname@example.org
Prom season may still be a few months away, but Heather Kotler and Christa Purnell are already knee-deep in taffeta and tulle.
Kotler, a health educator, and Purnell, a nurse practitionerboth
of the Adolescent Primary Care and Prevention Clinic at Hughes Spalding
Childrens Hospital (an affiliate of Grady Hospital)are the
catalysts behind Cinderella Project Atlanta, a clothing drive that will
provide underprivileged girls with free prom dresses.
Inspired by similar projects in Chicago and Palm Harbor, Fla., the drive
will make available gently used prom dresses collected from
various groups in the Atlanta-area to the clinics patients and area
high school students.
Purnell first had the idea for the drive after seeing a segment on The
Oprah Show about the Glass Slipper Project in Chicago, which has provided
1,800 free prom dresses to girls age 16 to 17. The idea for such a project
in Atlanta didnt hit home until Purnell was faced with a perfectly
good bridesmaid dress that she wore just once and had no plans to wear
I spent a lot of money on a bridesmaids dress and thought
that it was really pretty and prom-wearable, she said. Then
I started thinking about all of the people who have dresses hanging in
their closets that theyll never wear again but that somebody else
might be able to use.
Purnell and Kotler are just two of the 15 or so people who help run the
Adolescent Primary Care and Prevention Clinic. The clinic serves inner-city,
low-income teenagers, many of whom are on Medicaid and/or Peach Care programs.
About 90 percent of the clinics patients are girls, many of whom
come from unstable home environments.
The clinic is open Mondays and Thursdays from 16 p.m. and accepts
walk-in patients with every malady from the sniffles to sexually transmitted
diseases. The clinic also offers employment services, referrals to drug
rehabilitation and GED programs, family and individual counseling, relationship
and girls support groups, and a sexual assault program.
We deal with the intimate details of their lives, so we find out
a lot, Kotler said. We all work together as a teamwith
the social work, psychology, health education, medical careso we
find out what they need in every aspect of their lives.
And like many teenage girls, the patients Kotler and Purnell work with
want to go to prom but cant afford to buy a dress. The Cinderella
Project hopes to solve that problem.
Once the dresses are collected, shopping days, when the girls
can come and browse the selections, will be Saturday, March 17, and Saturday,
March 24, from noon to 4 p.m. in the Steiner Building Auditorium at 68
Armstrong St., across from Grady Hospital.
Since the project began in November, 70 dresses have been donated, many
of which haven taken up residency in Kotlers office. The goal is
to collect 350 dresses and Kotler thinks meeting and exceeding that number
wont be impossible, judging on how quickly promotion of the project
has grown through impromptu e-mails.
The word just spread like wildfire. We sent out e-mails to friends,
and then they sent out
Kotler and Purnell have been working with various organizations across
the city that are running their own internal dress drives to donate to
the Cinderella Project. Both Kotler and Purnell both received their masters
of public health degrees from Emory, and Purnell received her masters
of science from the School of Nursing. The two used their ties to the
Emory community as a springboard for the Cinderella Project.
Dropoff boxes for dresses have been placed in the public health, law
and nursing schools and in the Dobbs Center. Other area schools such as
Georgia State University and Spelman College also have begun collecting
dresses, in addition to collection through local churches, synagogues,
private high schools and businesses.
And donations havent just come in dress formFantastic Sams
salon has offered to donate vouchers for hairstyling for the prom-goers,
while other donations have come in the form of purses, jewelry, shoes,
makeup and money.
Donations will be accepted through the first week of March. People also
may mail dresses to: Cinderella Project Atlanta, Dept. of Pediatrics,
69 Butler St., Atlanta, GA, 30303. Those wishing to drop off dresses may
do so at Grady Hospital, Dept. of Pediatrics, 68 Armstrong St.
For more information, contact Kotler at 404-616-4640 or Purnell at 404-616-4560.