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NEWS | Oct. 15, 2013

Heidi's Cinderella Closet: A not so far, far away fairytale

By Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affair

Finding the perfect dress for an evening out is not just a dilemma an enchanted princess has to deal with. Fortunately for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, magical fairy godmothers do exist - at Heidi's Cinderella Closet.

There may not be a pair of glass slippers there, but the fairytale ending of a beautiful gown is crystal-clear.

Much like the Airmen's Attic atLangley, volunteers decided to join forces to create a program where members of the military community with valid military identification can borrow dresses, formal wear and accessories, free of charge.

Since the program's beginning in August, Amye Pederson, Langley Enlisted Spouses Club vice president, envisioned the project to serve the JBLE community.

"We have men's business suits, wedding dresses, purses, shoes and other accessories," said Pederson. "We hope to help everyone, including those who finished their service and would like to borrow a business suit for an interview, or a newly-engaged couple in search of a wedding gown."

Heidi's Cinderella Closet was named to pay tribute to Heidi Miller Crawford, a active member of the Washington, D.C. community who lost her life to cancer. After Heidi's family made the initial donation of her personal dresses, various donators around the installation followed suit. The project now has more than 120 gowns to choose from.

Kathy Hostage, wife of Gen. Mike Hostage, Air Combat Command commander, who helped bring the vision of Heidi's Cinderella Closet to fruition, was told by Heidi's family that she would have been very happy knowing that her personal collection was making a difference.

"My passion has always been helping families, and seeing this bring together community and military members is wonderful," said Hostage. "Service members work hard to support the mission and it helps them to know their families are being taken care of."

Most formal celebrations, such as proms or balls, are already a hefty cost due to ticket prices. For Rachel Nightingale, a military spouse, Heidi's Cinderella Closet is an opportunity to save money and still enjoy a night out.

"Dresses and other formal wear can get expensive and a lot of times I only wear the dress once or twice," said Nightingale. "I rented my dress [from Heidi's Cinderella Closet] for the Air Force Ball and I used the money I would have spent on a gown on a babysitter for my three children instead. It worked out perfectly."

Pederson said eligible families will not only enjoy the gowns, but also the ease of the process.

"Once you have found a gown that you like, it's a very simple checkout process," said Pederson. "You must return the dress within 10 days of the event, dry-cleaned and ready for the next visitor."

By partnering with the dry-cleaners on base, the cleaning establishment has agreed to offer a discounted price to Heidi's Cinderella Closet users.

Pederson said the organization is always accepting donations of gently used formal wear for both men and women from the JBLE community.

Heidi's Cinderella Closet is located at 308 Emmonds Rd. at Langley, and is open by appointment only. For more information, call 504-0746, e-mail or visit their Facebook page