Chico State’s Panhellenic Council helps high school girls primp for prom
It’s a timeless movie moment: the pretty girl in the billowing dress dancing with prince charming. But in the real world, without fairy godmothers, the prom experience comes with a hefty price tag for most high school girls.
Not only are there the expenses of the dress and tickets to the dance, but dinner, photos and a limo are usually part of the typical prom night. That’s where Chico State sorority women step in, opening their closets in hopes of giving high school girls a prom experience they otherwise may not be able to afford.
Each year the Chico State Panhellenic Council, a governing body that unites Chico State sororities, puts on Cinderella’s Closet, which allows local high school students to pick through prom dresses donated by sorority women and take one home for free. Girls who find a dress from Cinderella’s Closet can save between $100 and $500—the cost of the average prom dress.
“I had a lot of fun at my prom, and I’m glad we’re giving other people the opportunity to have the same experience,” said Brooke Smith, vice president of philanthropy and community service for Chico State’s Panhellenic.
Last year’s event drew about 160 girls to peruse about 100 dresses collected by the sororities. High school students from Pleasant Valley, Chico, Paradise and Oroville high schools were invited to attend. As girls excitedly browsed through the taffeta and tulle, the sorority women served as fashion gurus, offering advice about which dress flattered each girl best and how to accessorize for the big night.
“It’s fun for us too, because we get to be fashion experts for a day,” said Maritzi Govea, president of the Student California Teachers Association, a student group that is co-sponsoring the event this year.
Panhellenic has been holding Cinderella’s Closet at Chico State for the past six years, and Smith, a junior in Sigma Kappa, has been in charge for the last two. While the event has been successful in the past, Smith hopes there will be even more dresses for the sorority women to give out at this year’s event, which takes place Sunday (April 13). Starbucks has agreed to allow collection boxes in its Chico locations so community members can become fairy godparents as well, by contributing new or gently used dresses.
Giving the girls more dresses to choose from is not the only way Panhellenic Council and SCTA are hoping Cinderella’s Closet will be different this year. They are also planning to pass out coupons for tanning, shoes and hair salons. Some of these local businesses may also have booths at the event so girls can get fashion and beauty advice all in one place, like a “prom expo,” Smith explained.
Events like this one are an opportunity for Chico State, and the Greeks in particular, to reach out and do something positive for the community, Smith and Govea agreed. In this case, they’re providing girls the opportunity to look like princesses at their proms without breaking the bank.
“It’s fun because they’re getting a free dress so they will be able to spend a little more on something else, like maybe a limo or a nice dinner,” Govea said.