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Cinderella Project celebrates 10th anniversary

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BELFAST - Prom season is right around the corner, and many teenage girls who might not have been able to go due to cost are now getting the chance to attend the big dance all thanks to the Cinderella Project of Maine. This free prom dress giveaway, held at the Reny's Plaza in Belfast, is now in its 10th year, and in that amount of time it has supplied 1,200 high schoolers with a new or used prom dress.

"I can't believe it. I'm just so happy and so proud. Not many things make it to 10 years, especially when it's all volunteer based and seasonal," said Mandie Sawyer, chairperson of the Cinderella Project of Maine.

Over the years, the Cinderella Project has collected all kinds of various gowns - long or short, fitted or flare, strapless or halter top. Each recipient who is given a dress, free of charge, is simply asked to pay it forward and do a good deed for someone else..

"A lot of girls will have their senior prom and come back from college to get their dress back to us in time for the next giveaway so another high school girl can wear it," explained Tabitha Lowe from the Waldo Community Action Program, a supporter of the Cinderella Project.

Dresses have been donated from all over the state and even as far away as Los Angeles. All of them are stored until the day of the giveaway, which is scheduled for April 4, 9 a.m. 3 p.m.

"I've always wanted to have a dress from Anna Kendrick or Kirstie Alley, someone with a tie to Maine who has access to gorgeous dresses, but I've never been able to accomplish that. But that's my goal," said Sawyer.

The Cinderella Project has grown so much that a second giveaway location was added last year. That giveaway will happen April 18, 9 a.m. 2 p.m. at Johnson Hall, located at 280 Water Street in Gardiner.

"The Cinderella Project is very important. We live in a rural community where there are a lot of challenges and poverty, and it's hard for a lot of girls to get to a place where they can purchase dresses," explained Lowe.

"Getting people involved year after year can be a challenge but it has gotten easier with time because people know about us now and really look forward to it," said Sawyer.

For more information or to make a donation to the Cinderella Project, log on to www.cinderellaprojectofmaine.org.

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