For the past 17 years, the Young Lawyer’s Division of the South Carolina Bar has collected dresses, accessories and monetary donations for the Cinderella Project, which helps South Carolina high school girls be able to attend their prom. This year, the University of South Carolina School of Law’s Women in Law student organization contributed a record number of dress to the project, collecting more than 200 dresses and $1250 in gift cards.
“Women in Law is dedicated to service projects in the Midlands, particularly those that benefit women and girls. This project is important to us because it takes the financial pressure off of prom night for those who are not able to afford it,” says WIL president Kristen Sweaney McLeod.
The School of Law has been a collection site for dresses throughout the years, thanks to the efforts and coordination of WIL. This year, members went even further, by calling on local businesses to seek gift card and dress donations, allowing them to break their previous collection goals. But the group’s involvement goes well beyond simply gathering the dresses.
After all of the donations are collected, the Cinderella Project creates boutiques in various areas of the state for girls to visit and shop for their dresses. On the day before the boutique, WIL members help by collecting the dresses from various collection sites and transporting them to the boutique. Once there, they help sort through the dresses, inspecting them for stains or tears, and then hang them up by size.
“It is usually a long day and goes into the night, as there are usually thousands of dresses that have donated. But it’s worth it.”
When the boutique opens, WIL members greeted excited girls and helped them located their size. Girls who shopped at the boutique were eligible for gift cards for free dinner, hair up-dos, and make up sessions collected by WIL.
McLeod says that aside from helping out the community, the project is a good way for the students to get plugged into the bar community.
“WIL members are able to see what kinds of volunteer opportunities are available with the Young Lawyers Division, so that when they are lawyers, they can continue to be active in service. Part of WIL’s mission is to encourage students as they enter the legal profession and provide opportunities for members to learn from successful women lawyers. The Cinderella Project is a wonderful time to volunteer with female attorneys in the Midlands.”
All of their hard work pays off during one special moment says McLeod.
“My personal favorite part of the Cinderella Project is seeing the smiles on the girls faces when they find the perfect dress! Just watching them walk around in it, not wanting to take it off, and seeing the joy on their face - that’s an unforgettable experience!”