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jonesboro's fairy godmother
by Audrey Hanes, photo by Amy Long

For many teenagers, prom is a rite of passage. Although it’s a fun and memorable event that most high school students will never forget, it’s also an expensive one. Ordinarily, because of the cost associated with most prom dresses and accessories, hundreds of students in Northeast Arkansas might have to miss out on this milestone. Enter the Glass Slipper Closet.

The Glass Slipper Closet, which is organized and run by Compassion in Action (CIA), a nonprofit arm of Life Strategies Counseling Inc. (LSCI), provides free prom dresses and accessories to girls in need in Northeast Arkansas. Becki Gibson has been involved with the organization since 2008, and the joy she experiences as she helps girls pick out their perfect prom dress is contagious.

“I love seeing the girls find their dream dress,” said Gibson. “We are so blessed with such wonderful donors who supply us with top-notch dresses. These young ladies have the opportunity to choose a very beautiful gown, and they will be able to attend prom in style.”

The Glass Slipper Closet began in 2005 when Dawn Mitchell, the clinical director and co-owner of LSCI, was asked to help purchase a gown for a student who wished to attend her high school prom. The counseling center, which provides community-based mental health service to families and individuals, purchased a dress and accessories for the student, who was then able to attend her long-anticipated school dance in style.

The following year, LSCI asked for donations and received 10 dresses. Then, in 2007, the counseling center approached Clark’s Bridal in Jonesboro and Jessica’s Bridal and Formal in Bay, both of whom donate numerous gowns, formal shoes and accessories to the prom project each year. White Columns in Paragould and the Wedding Gallery and the Sassy Zebra in Jonesboro have since joined the cause, and additional new or almost-new gowns are donated from members of the community and from secondhand stores.

So far in 2012, the organization has given away more than 160 prom gowns since opening its doors the second week of February. When a girl calls Gibson for an appointment, there are no questions asked, and they don’t have to prove their need for a gown. All they have to do is ask. When they show up for their scheduled appointment, each student receives individual assistance from a volunteer personal shopper as they shop for their dream prom dress.

“Ninety percent of our dresses are brand new with tags on them,” said Gibson proudly. “Many of these girls are seniors, and they wouldn’t be going to prom without the Glass Slipper Closet. ... If a girl in need is coming to us, she’s going to get a really, really nice dress.

“It’s a real self-esteem booster to be able to wear a beautiful gown and attend prom and look as good as everyone else. We also have stylists who volunteer their time for some of our girls for up-dos and makeup, and even dry cleaners donate their services.”

ibson says that girls from all over Northeast Arkansas and even Missouri flock to the Glass Slipper Closet each prom season. Almost every girl who makes an appointment leaves with a dress, and volunteers often give the students styling tips for their big night.

“It’s humbling and uplifting,” said Gibson of being involved with the nonprofit organization. “It’s fun to be a part of such a heartwarming program.”

The Glass Slipper Closet helps high school boys who would like to attend prom, too; it helps provide suits, shirts and ties for any male students who approach the organization, and Guys’ Tuxedos is always willing to help.

For those who want to help the organization, all Gibson asks is that the women of Jonesboro clean out their closets.

“We just really need more dresses – especially plus-sized dresses – to meet the area’s needs,” she said. “We need people who have old prom, pageant and special event dresses in their closets to donate them to the Glass Slipper Closet. Being able to go to prom can have such a positive impact in these girls’ lives.”
In addition to the Glass Slipper Closet, CIA helps out families in need throughout the year. Last year, the nonprofit arm of LSCI purchased 16 twin bed sets for families who had children sleeping on the floor. It also helps with school supplies, food, clothing, underwear and personal hygiene products for children, and it provides Thanksgiving meals for those who might not have one otherwise.

“CIA came about as a result of a child needing extensive dental corrective surgery,” said Gibson. “The family was unable to bear the expense, so we got involved; through private donations, we were able to pay for the entire surgical expense. That’s when CIA was formed.”

Gibson believes that many fundraisers are in the future for CIA. Many of LSCI’s employees donate from their checks on a weekly basis to help fund the organization, which also receives aid from private donations, but there is still a need for aid.

“We are seeing a greater need for underprivileged kids and need additional funds for programs that build self-esteem and help to break the poverty cycle through education and positive reinforcement,” she said. “I love my job and the opportunity to help children. I am very blessed to be part of such a caring and compassionate team at LSCI. It’s all about our kids and making their life better.”

To donate a dress, to make an appointment or for more information about the Glass Slipper Closet, which is located at 1218 Stone Street, call 972-1268 or email becki.gibson@lscihelp.com.

Pictured: Becki Gibson with Weiner High School students Sami Dale,
Jacqueline Pickle, Carly Bradley, Megan Matthews and Paige Craft