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Find that ‘happily ever after’ dress in Cinderella’s Closet

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Linda Slater, Cinderella's Closet volunteer, shows customer Dianne Stewart, right, some of the dresses available for loan to military and family members here Feb. 24. Dresses for dances, other formal occasions and weddings are available with the only requirement to return items dry cleaned within 10 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Cynthia East)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Linda Slater, Cinderella's Closet volunteer, shows customer Dianne Stewart, right, some of the dresses available for loan to military and family members here Feb. 24. Dresses for dances, other formal occasions and weddings are available with the only requirement to return items dry cleaned within 10 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Cynthia East)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Linda Slater, Cinderella's Closet volunteer, shows customer Dianne Stewart, right, some of the dresses available for loan to military and family members here Feb. 24. Dresses for dances, other formal occasions and weddings are available with the only requirement to return items dry cleaned within 10 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Cynthia East)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Linda Slater, Cinderella's Closet volunteer, shows customer Dianne Stewart, right, some of the dresses available for loan to military and family members here Feb. 24. Dresses for dances, other formal occasions and weddings are available with the only requirement to return items dry cleaned within 10 days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Cynthia East)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When you can't find a thing to wear to that upcoming awards banquet or ball, why spend all that hard-earned money on a dress that may only be worn once or twice? One doesn't have to travel far, far away to find a perpetual supply of fabulous dresses to choose from; they can be found for free to anyone with a military ID card, active or retired. Cinderella's Closet, at Lackland's One Stop location; alongside the Airman's Attic, thrift shop, and Women, Infants and Children Services, offers the "happily ever after" solution any fairy godmother would approve of.

Lackland Enlisted Spouse Club member, Kristie Williams, envisioned a program that would allow women in the military community to borrow dresses for banquets, balls, dining-outs, and awards ceremonies. Starting in 2010 with around 150 dresses donated by the enlisted spouse club at Fort Hood, Texas, Cinderella's Closet grew significantly in the last year, now offering a selection of more than 400 dresses ranging from wedding dresses and formal gowns to cocktail dresses in all sizes.

"Dresses are so expensive and our group wanted to do something to help families save money," said Williams, who also wanted young women to benefit from the service for homecomings and proms. "Yesterday we fitted a mom and her two daughters for a special family event."

On average, the closet provides service to about 15 customers monthly, but when the base is hosting military balls or during prom season, that number can double or triple.

"We have fitted young Airmen's spouses, general's spouses and everyone in between to include teenage daughters," said Linda Slater, an enlisted spouse club member and regular volunteer at the closet. "All that we ask our customers is that they return their selected dress back within 10 days of their event, dry cleaned."

Slater explained, customers decrease the cost of attending a function, wedding, or prom and this increases the chances for people to attend events, which may be good news for younger Airmen or anyone who's strapped for cash.

"Our repeat customers are increasing because they know Cinderella's Closet enhances their opportunities to have fun and look fabulous," said Slater. "We encourage them to take pictures so that we can put them in our Guest Photo Album. We are proud to say that we rented our first Wedding gown recently and our bride looked absolutely stunning!"

With donations from the Joint Base San Antonio community, Cinerella's Closet staff hope it will continue to expand.

"We truly appreciate the support and donations we receive from our big Military Community," said Williams. "Who says fairytales don't come true?"

Cinderella's Closet is open Monday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment only 6-8 p.m.