The Princess Closet

July 22, 2010 10:23:55 AM PDT
Prom season is months away, but some Chicago area women are planning for it already. Maria and Gina Davalos, along with dedicated volunteers, have launched a Prom Dress Marathon with a goal of collecting 1,000 donated dresses.

The campaign which runs through next March will collect party dresses and formals for The Princess Closet, www.princess-closet.org. The Chicago organization helps financially disadvantaged high school students by making their dreams of attending prom, graduation or another formal event accessible by providing donated gowns. The organization also offers programs promoting positive self-image through seminars and instruction on hairstyles and make-up techniques. High school junior and senior girls can "shop" for a dress during several "Dream Day Events" held throughout the school year, which feature fashions shows of donated dresses and style seminars.

Their efforts are getting a boost this weekend from International Pageants that is sponsoring the 2010 Miss and Miss Teen International Pageant Finals on Saturday at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie The current Miss Teen Illinois International, Sarah Bertrand of Wadsworth, is a volunteer for The Princess Closet and connected the two organizations. A natural fit, the pageant organization is supporting the Prom Dress Marathon by asking this year's Mrs., Miss and Miss Teen contestants to donate gowns to The Princess Closet. International Pageants expects to collect more than 100 gowns for the organization.

The Princess Closet idea came about when Maria Davalos' daughter, Isabel Equihua and her friend, Edith Flores were looking for prom dresses and found themselves with limited resources which limited their options significantly. "As a mother, I was crushed to see them demoralized and faced with a dilemma that could prevent them from attending such a memorable event," Maria says "The Princess Closet idea came to reality and many wonderful women stepped up to the occasion and donated dresses for the girls when presented with their predicament."

Volunteers, called Fairy Godmothers collect formal dresses, gift bags of cosmetics, shoes, purses and accessories. The Princess Closet has partnered with Archer Cleaners, Modern Wave Salon, A CommonThread.com and Chicago Police District 7 and St. Pius Church in Chicago. This year they gave out about 250 dresses to needy teens.

The Princess Closet is forming a Student Advisory Board made up of young women from various schools in Chicago who will demonstrate leadership by conducting, fund raisers and dress drives in their schools, as well as helping other schools set up their own drives and fund raisers. They also will contribute to the organization's website.

"It takes a lot of fairy dust to pull off Princess Closet Dream Day Events," says executive director Gina Davalos says. "Join us and experience the magic of transforming young ladies into Princesses. Watch firsthand as their eyes light up as they find their magical dress. Granting a wish for the young ladies is the only reward a Fairy Godmother needs."

If you'd like to volunteer for The Princess Closet or find a drop off location for prom, homecoming and graduation dresses, visit www.princess-closet.org.

MODELS
All models are recent high school graduates who volunteer for The Princess Closet. Each model is wearing a gown donated by a contestant of the 2010 Miss or Miss Teen International Pageant

Erin Marie Henderman

  • Maria High School - Graduated 2010 as National Honor Society Officer
  • Attending: Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana; Studying Elementary Education Volunteered for the Princess Closet as a shopper assistance
  • Wearing a gown donated by a local boutique.

Amalia Basaldua

  • Lincoln Park High School (choir 4 yrs) - Graduated 2010
  • Attending: Harold Washington College (plans are to transfer to Columbia College Chicago) after I finish my gen ed classes and major in broadcast journalism and photography and minor in music and arts.
  • Volunteered for the Princess Closet as a model and shopper assistance.
  • Wearing a gown donated by a local boutique

Rosie Alicia

  • Current student at Downers Grove South High School
  • New member/volunteer for the Princess Closet
  • Wearing a gown donated by Miss Teen Oklahoma International, which she wore in her 2009 state pageant

Alexis Paige Johnson

  • Portage High School in Portage, IN (Junior Year) New member/volunteer for the Princess Closet
  • Wearing a gown donated by Miss Teen Maryland International

Isabel Equihua

  • Maria High School Graduated 2010 as National Honor Society Officer
  • Attending: Saint Xavier University Nursing Program Volunteered for the Princess Closet as a shopper assistance
  • Wearing a gown donated by Miss Teen Pennsylvania International
  • ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PAGEANTS

    International Pageants, Inc. was created 25 years ago as a platform-based event to promote women and their accomplishments through well regarded pageant competitions that have the highest of ethical standards. Giving new meaning to "beauty queen," International Pageants empowers women around the world to emphasize the importance of being a positive role model.

    Each pageant (Mrs., Miss and Miss Teen) consists of four separate judging categories: interview, evening gown, fitness wear and fun fashion wear. The interview, which is based on the contestant's platform, counts for 40 percent of each contestant's overall score. Leading up to the national competitions in July, state and country preliminaries occur between the months of January and May. The competitions attract contestants from all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 60 other countries.

    Miss International features single women ages 19 to 29 and Miss Teen International focuses on young women ages 13 to 18. The winner of each contest wins a variety of prizes.

    For more information, visit www.missteeninternational.us and www.miss-international.us.

    PAGEANT TICKET INFORMATION

    The 2010 Miss and Miss Teen International Pageants final competition will be held at the North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, Saturday, July 25 from 7:30 to 11 pm. Tickets start at $60 per person and are available by calling 847-673-6300.


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