Find your real-life Cinderella story

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shelby R. Orozco
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
In Disney's "Cinderella," the main character struggles with finding a dress to wear to the Prince's ball, ultimately relying on the help of a fairy godmother to outfit her with a magical gown and glass slippers.

Cinderella gets her happy ending, but what about the women in real-life who do not have a fairy godmother?

To answer that question, look no further than Whiteman's own 'fairy godmothers,' also known as the volunteers running the Cinderella's Closet, located in the Airman's Attic.

"Cinderella's Closet is a program within the Airman's Attic that allows Airmen of all ranks and their spouses to find beautiful dresses and borrow them absolutely free of charge," said Tiffany Kalin, the Airman's Attic coordinator. "It's a simple checkout process completed here at the Airman's Attic and all we ask is that the dress is dry-cleaned before being returned to us."

This fairytale started back in 2006 in Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., when Lori Hornback, wife of Air Force Global Strike Command Chief Chief Master Sgt. Brian Hornback, started asking women why they were not going to events such as the Air Force Ball.

"She found that many women weren't going simply because they couldn't afford to go out and buy a dress nice enough for the events," said Kalin. "So with a simple ad on Craigslist and just a handful of dresses, Cinderella's Closet was born. Now we have between 250-300 dresses in all colors and styles, and thanks to a donation by a store going out of business, many still have their original price tags on them."

While the program allows women to check out the dresses for any event, be it a wedding or military ball, and even offers a selection of shoes and jewelry to match, Kalin and other Airman's Attic volunteers noticed the Cinderella's Closet was widely unknown to most people on base.

After some brainstorming, the volunteers decided there was no better way to showcase and raise awareness of the Closet than holding a fashion show.

So on the night of Sept. 6, 2013, the first B-2 Fabulous Fashion Show was held at the Mission's End.

"The show was run by a crew of entirely volunteers," said Mary-Beth Goodman, fashion show committee member. "The volunteers were key to putting the event together."

"All of our models were volunteers, both active duty women and spouses of active duty Service members," said Dara Webb, Airman's Attic volunteer. "Our ushers, makeup and hair stylists and DJ were all volunteers, as well. We were really blessed with amazing volunteers who were willing to put in the long hours for things such as practices and committee meetings."

The event was a huge success, said Kalin.

"We had a silent auction, raffle prizes and prizes for answering trivia questions correctly," said Kalin. "We also gave out swag bags to our first 30 people through the doors. We made the decision to choose all prizes from spouses who run home businesses; it was very important to us to keep the revenue inside Whiteman."

The models, many of who had never walked a runway or modeled professionally before, also had a great time.

"My favorite part of the night was getting to be with all of the other models," said Charly Swiger-Peterson, fashion show model. "We put a lot of effort into this event and being able to celebrate it at the end of the night was very rewarding for all of us."

Kalin is happy to say they are already working on a second show scheduled for some time next year.

"We are definitely planning on making this an annual thing," said Kalin. "So I can say for sure there will be another fashion show."

Anyone wishing to donate a dress, shoes or jewelry to Cinderella's Closet can drop the items off in the Airman's Attic donation shed which is open 24/7, but due to the delicacy of the dresses Kalin prefers dresses be dropped off in person at the Airman's Attic, open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"We're always looking for more dresses and accessories," said Kalin. "We want to have dresses available for every woman, no matter her shape or size."

Thanks to the volunteers at the Airman's Attic, every woman gets to feel like Cinderella and be the star of their very own fairytale...but it might be better to skip the glass slippers and go for a more practical pair of heels instead.