The Glass Slipper ministry is about putting love into action.
Dawna Church said for her, this ministry is so much more than pretty dresses.
Glass Slipper helps "young ladies attend their formal events, like prom, regardless of their ability to purchase a dress."
Girls, who may not otherwise be able to afford a prom dress, are able to come in, shop through the Glass Slipper collection and checkout a dress at no cost.
"Our main purpose is to share the love of Christ with them. We are a ministry of Cedar Point Church, we are a christian ministry. We want the people, the young women, in our community to know they are loved and cared for. This is us putting love into action," said Church. "All they have to do is come in and tell us they need a dress.There's no qualification or application. We don't ask a lot of questions about their financial situation. Regardless of their financial situation, we want to make sure everybody has the opportunity to go to their formal event."
The Glass Slipper ministry started about five years ago, in a little country church east of town.
"We had a 12-by-10 room and had a couple racks of dresses. Our first year we helped six girls, the next year we helped 12 and the next year we helped 25. In the past two years we've had about 50 girls throughout the year and that was in a small country church. This past year we had the opportunity to move to Cedar Point, where we remodeled space and opened up a storefront in that shopping center," Church said, adding that they now occupy a 1,500-square foot space and have about 1,200 dresses in a variety of styles and sizes.
"We decided really early we never wanted to offer less than our best to these young women and their families…At least 80 percent of those dresses were private donations," she said.
Some of the donations, she said, come from mothers trying to clear out closet space after their daughters go off to college and some are an expression of community kindness.
"We got lucky enough that when JCPennys in town went out of business they sold their dresses for $1 a piece. So we bought 46 or 47 dresses for $47. When the ladies from Mrs. K's retired they're generous enough to donate their leftover stock. There were a couple other ministries trying to do what we do, and they said they would rather support us and let us grow and they gave us some of their stock, too."
Church said prom dresses are expensive—often more than a family can afford, or more than they want to pay.
"If you've ever shopped for a prom dress, or sent your credit card with a daughter that's shopping for one, you know these dresses can go from $200 to $600, on an average. And that's not trying to buy the most expensive dresses," she explained. "We get families that are doing okay—they're paying their bills and providing for their families—but to go out and buy a prom dress is not in their wheelhouse right now. And some families just don't want to pay the extra expense. And we have some girls that have no support. We see girls that are young teenage mothers. We see girls that have no parental support, they couch hop from friend's house to friend's house. We see all kinds of girls and we want to help them all."
Church wants youth groups, foster parent groups and anyone else who works with young women, to know about this ministry.
With prom season just around the corner, Church said this year is off to a busy start. The past couple years they've had 50 girls check out dresses. This year, Church wants to double it.
To do that, though, they'll take all the donations and word-of-mouth they can get.
The Glass Slipper accepts donations of jewelry, shoes, strapless bras and all kinds of formal dresses in addition to monetary donations.
"This is a story changing place. Jesus is the ultimate story changer for everyone. We want to be that touch, that source of light and love for these young women. That's our goal. So many people in this world don't have that basic human need of being loved. We want to be that, that's our true goal," she said. "Some of these girls have never been told they're pretty. They've never felt pretty. So to watch them through this experience is a blessing."
Visit Glass Slipper Claremore on Facebook for more information.