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The Old Bridge Glass Slipper Project welcomes donations of dresses, tuxedos, suits, shoes, jewelry, makeup and even certificates for services such as hair and nail appointments, tuxedo rentals and dry cleaning for the dresses. The organization then holds “boutiques” where students can go to look at the inventory. The items are then donated to whoever needs them. Students can give a donation for the items if they choose to, but it is not mandatory. The students can also choose to donate the items back after the prom if they want to. This program is for all Old Bridge residents, so it doesn’t matter whether the students are enrolled in the public schools or the private schools.
The project is now in its third year of operation and Executive Chair Kelly Ellis-Foster said that she founded this project after being a part of the Old Bridge Town Council and seeing the huge income variations in the town. She said after seeing that, she knew that there was a need for a project like this. Ellis-Foster is a part of the Old Bridge Alumni Path Foundation, which raises money for the Old Bridge athletic and arts programs, and she is a subsidiary of the foundation giving the Old Bridge Glass Slipper Project a tax ID so when items are donated — especially products and services — she can write the donor a letter that counts as a charitable deduction for their taxes.
The project works with the Old Bridge Board of Education, teachers and staff at the schools and Investors Bank. The project not only accepts donations of items but monetary donations as well to put toward buying more clothing racks, jewelry and displays for the jewelry.
Recently, the project’s headquarters has moved to Old Bridge High School. Ellis-Foster said that it is a lot more beneficial for the items to be in the school because it provides easier access for the students. If students miss a boutique, a teacher can let them in the room afterward to look at the inventory. She also said it is helpful to work with the school because guidance counselors and staff know best who can use the project and can encourage them to go to the boutiques.
“The school is where the dresses really belong. That means if at any time during the year a student needs a dress for a wedding or sweet 16, students can talk to a teacher and the teacher can take them down to look at the dresses. They are much more accessible to anyone who needs them and we have a lot more flexibility to run more than one boutique if needed,” Ellis-Foster said.Ellis-Foster wants to get the students involved as well. She has spoken to the marketing classes at the school and the students have come up with ideas of how to get the word out about the project. The students came up with the idea to create a Twitter account, under the handle @slipper_OB and they have made posters to display around the school, made announcements and have designed a showcase with one of the dresses in the school.
“The more we get students involved and the more that they can see what the dresses are, hopefully they will feel more comfortable coming to the boutiques. We are starting to get awareness that what we have are really nice things. Some people might think that they are all used but we do get a number of brand new dresses as donations, so some are hanging with tags, never worn and some dresses have only been worn once,” Ellis-Foster said.
Upcoming boutiques are going to be held at Old Bridge High School on Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. on both days. The project has also extended this year and will be offering the same types of items for the eighth-graders for their eighth grade dance. So there may be another boutique added closer to that dance. The project is accepting donations for that dance as well.
Ellis-Foster said that every year the group receives more donations and more students come every year. The overall goal, Ellis-Foster said, is to help as many of the students as possible. She said that there are around 3,000 students in the high school and if they can help at least 40 to 50 students this year, that would be huge.
She said that she is always amazed by the community involvement. The most important way that people can help is not only by donating, but by telling anyone they know in the area about this project, to spread the word to as many students as possible. The easiest place to bring donations is the Investors Bank at 345 Matawan Road in Old Bridge because it is more accessible to the public than the high school for security reasons.
“Helping the kids is the most rewarding part of doing this. They are just so excited,” said Ellis-Foster.