Lexington, Virginia • January 24, 2011
A young teenager has persisted in school to get her education but can't afford a dress to go to the prom-one of the special milestones in her life. A single mother living in poverty can't afford a nice business suit to go for the job interview that may change her life.
Both these scenarios inspired Alex Anderson-Tuttle, a third-year student at Washington and Lee University School of Law, to call on female students, faculty and administrative staff across campus to clear out their closets and donate clothing and accessories to the Cinderella Project and Dress for Success.
"So many women on campus have business clothing they no longer wear. And I'm sure almost all of W&L's women students attended their own prom and have great dresses they could donate," said Anderson-Tuttle, who came up with the idea in her capacity as vice president of service for the Women Law Students Organization (WLSO).
Anderson-Tuttle said that although plenty of people have expressed great interest in the project, and some have already donated, she has the impression that many are waiting until the January 28 deadline. "Either I or one of the WLSO board members will pick up the donations, so we make it easy" she said. "But if everyone waits until the end we'll be incredibly busy in one big rush."
Both the Cinderella Project and Dress for Success are national non-profit organizations with affiliates in each state. The recipients of the donations go to their nearest donation center where someone helps them pick out suitable clothing and accessories. "It's kind of like a shopping experience even though it's not an actual store," said Anderson-Tuttle.
For Dress for Success, Anderson-Tuttle said she is looking for interview-appropriate suits and related separates, shoes suitable for the workplace, unopened hosiery, tote bags, attaché bags or briefcases, professional accessories (including jewelry, scarves, belts and handbags), unopened cosmetics, coats and outerwear. Each client receives one suit when she has a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when she finds work.
Anderson-Tuttle said that both programs fit perfectly with the service aim of WLSO to strengthen women in need. "By donating prom dresses, people will help reward teenagers who are staying in school but are in a position where they maybe can't go to the prom. This tells them to keep going and keep trying to get their education because it's so important," she said.
"With Dress for Success, most people don't think about how a woman who has been in an abusive relationship or living in poverty can't get her hands on appropriate clothing. It's such a necessity for her. For the W&L community to be able to put clothes on her back to help her get a job is very meaningful."
To donate to the Cinderella Project or Dress for Success contact Alex Anderson-Tuttle at email@example.com by January 28.