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College students act as fairy godmothers to local teens
cinderella 1
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Every girl deserves to feel like the belle of the ball. That is the philosophy of Delta Phi Gamma, a local sorority at California State University, Stanislaus. The women of Delta Phi Gamma make girls' dreams come true with Project Cinderella, a program that loans formal dresses to junior high and high school girls for free.

Project Cinderella started three years ago as a community outreach program for teenage girls. Delta Phi Gamma members collect used formal dresses and distribute them at area schools to girls who might not otherwise be able to afford the cost of a formal event.

"Prom can be really expensive. Especially in this economy, some girls can't afford a new dress," said Jennifer Ruiz, Project Cinderella chair for Delta Phi Gamma.

The sorority members accept used and new formal dresses all year long and keep them in storage. A large number of their donations come from CSU Stanislaus students, although they also accept dresses from community members.

The sorority brings the dresses to local schools a few weeks before formal events. They kick off each Project Cinderella with a fashion show where Delta Phi Gammas model the dresses on a runway set up at the school. They stay on campus every school day until the formal event, giving students a chance to visit during their lunch break or between classes.

Students at the selected school can confidentially borrow a dress for their formal event, as long as they return it for another girl to use at the next formal event.

"We have about 100 dresses right now, in a lot of sizes and styles," Ruiz said.

All that is required to borrow a dress is a $10 refundable deposit. If girls can't afford the deposit right away, the dress can be held for an agreed upon amount of time.

"We want to give them time to get the deposit together. We don't want to turn any girl away," said Kylie Pallios, member of Delta Phi Gamma.

At the student's request, the dress will be cleaned and pressed before the big day. After the formal event, the dress is cleaned and put into storage until the next dance, prom or formal dinner.

"The feeling of helping out a girl is indescribable. It's amazing to be able to see the sparkle in their eyes as they find the dress they get to wear for their special night," Ruiz said.

Delta Phi Gamma's Project Cinderella will be at Turlock High School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from now until May 6. They are currently in the NJROTC room (I2) but they might move to another part of campus closer to prom night. Students at THS can borrow any dress for the upcoming Navy Ball or Prom with a $10 deposit. The deposit will be returned to the student when the dress is returned after the event.

To donate a dress to Project Cinderella, e-mail Jennifer Ruiz at or stop by the Delta Phi Gamma booth in the quad at CSU Stanislaus.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.