Citrus Cinderellas

In this 2015 photo, Dana Davis, one of the founding coordinators of Cinderella’s Closet, now called Citrus Cinderellas, a prom dress giveaway ministry of Cornerstone Baptist Church, looks through some of the prom dresses in storage for the event.

Dana and her daughter, Rachel, are stepping down from this ministry to pursue other ministry opportunities.

In 2008, Dana Davis and her then-college-age daughter, Rachel, were going through Rachel’s closet when they got the idea of a prom dress give away. As a single mom, Davis remembered how she scrimped and saved and struggled to buy Rachel a prom dress.

They started Cinderella’s Closet as a ministry of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness, and that first year provided free prom dresses for about 30 girls from Citrus High School.

Over the years, the event has encompassed high school age girls from across Citrus County, with last year’s January 2020 event reaching 190 girls.

Now in 2021, the ministry’s name has changed to Citrus Cinderellas, and because COVID-19 is still with us and school prom decisions have yet to be decided, at this time a prom dress event is also up in the air.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t dresses to be given away.

This year, Citrus Cinderellas is inviting women and girls of all ages to a “Fashion Show Dress Giveaway” from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1100 W. Highland Blvd., Inverness.

More than 800 semi-formal dresses, homecoming-style dresses, wedding gowns and even about two dozen “flower girl” dresses will be given away, with a limit of two dresses per person.

“We’ve been a big part of the community for so long, and we decided this year that since we couldn’t provide a prom dress giveaway like we normally do, we could provide a free event for some of the other dresses that we have,” said Ashley Young, part of the Citrus Cinderellas leadership team.

“So, this year it’s not just for high school girls in the community but for all ages — a wonderful girls’ day for everyone,” she said.

As Young explained, because of COVID-19 health/safety guidelines, they wouldn’t be able to sanitize the gowns in between multiple girls trying the same dresses on throughout the day.

At this event, the dresses cannot be tried on.

Instead, models of all shapes and sizes will wear the dresses so people can get a general sense of what might fit them.

It’s not ideal, but it’s free, said Dana Davis.

Throughout the afternoon, there will also be gift basket giveaways.

“We’re trying to make this a very positive event for our community, to let people know that no matter how dismal things look, there’s still hope and that they’re loved,” Davis said.

This is Davis’ last “Cinderella” event, also her daughter’s.

Rachel, now Rachel Da Silva, the married mother of twins, and Davis are stepping down from the successful and popular ministry after the March 20 event.

“We feel God’s got some other ministry things he wants us to be involved in ... and we’ve got some good leaders who are taking over,” Davis said.

Although Citrus Cinderellas isn’t taking dress donations at this time, they are still taking things like “sparkly bling,” accessories, bags and small purses, tiaras, etc.

Also, they need “T” dress racks or monetary donations to buy them.

For information, call 352-201-7851 or email citruscinderellas@gmail.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com. Read more of Nancy's stories at tinyurl.com/yxt69grh