With prom around the corner, every high school girl deserves to look her best. But finding a reasonably priced dress poses a challenge for many given the ongoing economic crisis.

This month, The Cinderella Affair is continuing its annual collection of "gently worn" prom dresses and complementary accessories to provide high school juniors and seniors across the state with a memorable experience.

The prom dress boutique will take place March 25 and 26. Friday is open to all Tempe Union High School District students and on Saturday, any juniors or seniors in the state of Arizona that present a valid school ID gain admission.

Amy Grossklaus, chair of the event this year, pointed out the appeal of the project: "All you have to do is wait in line."

The Cinderella Affair has eased ahead of other similar projects simply because they do not charge. High school IDs serve as tickets; everything else is free.

Grossklaus illustrated the event's popularity by explaining that in the past, customers have camped out overnight to maintain a good place in line.

"The honest truth is that when people hear about an event like this, they are pretty skeptical," Grossklaus said of the style and setup of The Cinderella Affair.

However, when girls come into the boutique, they become "pretty overwhelmed and excited."

The Cinderella Affair offers dresses from size zero to 30 in every color imaginable.

"In the last two years we've given away over 2,000 dresses - in 2009 just over 1,000, and over 950 last year," Grossklaus said.

This year, The Cinderella Affair hopes to continue in this direction, with a goal of more than 1,000 dresses to give away.

With more than 50 collection sites - 21 in Ahwatukee Foothills - they should have no problem achieving this goal.

Traci Tartaglio of Ahwatukee Carpets, Inc. was encouraged by her eighth-grade daughter to participate in The Cinderella Affair. Her business now serves as one of the collection sites.

"The box has been in the showroom less than a week and we have already collected 10 dresses," Tartaglio said.

The project continues to be driven by the plight of the economy.

"The last two years, because of the economy, the need (for prom dresses) has been high," Grossklaus said, adding that she hopes to maintain a steady flow of donations so that they can continue giving away dresses at the same rate as they have in the past.

"As long as there is a need, The Cinderella Affair will be there," Grossklaus said.

"Every girl dreams of being Cinderella at the ball," Tartaglio said. "It's nice to know that the community can pull together to make a few of those dreams come true."

The 10th Annual Free Dress Boutique will be at Pyle Adult Recreation Center, 655 E. Southern Ave. in Tempe. Donations will be accepted until Feb. 20 at any of the locations listed on their website, www.cinderellaaffair.org. For more information, call (480) 858-2300.

Erin Sullivan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.


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