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One rose print dress looked made for a flamenco dancer, another adorned with sequins had 1980s style. Inside an infantry company operations building, spouses of deployed Soldiers browsed racks of gently used formal dresses ready for new owners.
The family readiness group of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division held Cinderellas Closet, a clothing drive, Nov. 8 to 10, to gather, exchange, and offer free dresses for upcoming unit formal events.
The theme of the event was Every Cinderella deserves a gown in her closet to go to the ball.
Many ladies will wear a dress a few times, but then they know theyre not going to wear it again, said Rebeca Highfill, family readiness support adviser, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. Or perhaps theyve lost weight and are excited to get a new dress; some are ready to give up a dress and go for a newer one.
Requested items on the donation list included slightly used or new formal wear, gowns, gently used shoes, purses, jewelry and wraps. For dresses, one of the guidelines was that dresses should not be older than five years.
We got this amazing outpouring of dresses, Highfill said. Thirty ladies came and got their dresses the first day, and the word spread outside of 3rd Bde. to other units, which we were very excited about; its nice to bless others. Weve got plenty of dresses to share.
Weve had a couple flights of returning Soldiers now, and were expecting a busy next couple of weeks, said Darlene Pacheco, brigade family readiness support adviser. While the spouses are busy preparing for their Soldiers redeployment, this (Cinderellas Closet) is just one more thing to remind the wives their husbands are coming, that well be welcoming them home soon.
Every battalion in 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. has formal events scheduled, starting in February.
This gives everyone a chance to get their dress now, and not worry about that cost, Highfill said. Then they can focus on the tickets, or maybe they want to splurge on getting their hair done or a manicure, pedicure and this is one thing that they dont have to worry about.
Aside from the dresses, other donations included shoes, nail polishes, clear deodorants and makeup.
If something came that wasnt in working order, we werent going to try and have someone fix it themselves, Highfill said. There were a few dresses that may go on to Goodwill. Other than that, those who donated items paid attention and asked themselves, would I want to wear this again? and its those quality dresses that we received.
Dresses that werent selected will eventually be donated.
Weve got a plan in the works to bring them to the installation thrift shop or to bring them up to division if they want to start a program similar to ours, Pacheco said. Either way, these items will go back to the community.
Pacheco said the response has been positive, especially among spouses who found a dress to take home.
Weve had a lot of ladies coming through here, theyre just excited to find a dress. I think most of them are surprised to find something they do like, something that fits, and they leave here with a big smile on their face. Thats what we wanted to make sure everyone could feel like Cinderella at the ball, Highfill said.