By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Locals have an opportunity to be “fairy godmothers” by donating new and gently used formal dresses to high school girls who cannot afford to buy a dress in order to attend prom.
For this year’s prom season dresses need to be donated by early February at the two Ogden’s Cleaners locations in Rancho Bernardo — the only local businesses participating in The Princess Project. They are at 12461 Rancho Bernardo Road (near Albertsons) and 15721 Bernardo Heights Parkway (near Sprouts). Each is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
Formal gowns, party dresses and cocktail dresses can be gently used or new, but must be in excellent condition and a fashionable current style. Also needed are formal style handbags, jewelry, wraps and other accessories.
The Princess Project provides free prom dresses and accessories to girls throughout San Diego County who due to the high cost are unable to go to their prom. This includes girls at Rancho Bernardo and Poway high schools, said Ogden’s co-owner Tricia Greub.
Ogden’s has accepted dresses for the past five years, typically 200 to 300 per year. Employees clean and press the dresses for free before they are taken to the distribution events, Greub said. These included a school-based event one year and a showroom another.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Greub said, recalling how she helped at previous giveaways.
Monetary donations are also accepted, which helps with various costs including purchasing less-often-donated sizes of 0 to 2 and 18-plus. Send checks — with “San Diego” written on the memo line — to The Princess Project San Diego, P.O. Box 600761, San Diego, CA 92160-0761.
All donations — money, dresses and accessories — are tax deductible since The Princess Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, volunteer-run organization.
According to officials, “The Princess Project promotes self-esteem and inner beauty” and “We celebrate bodies of all types and sizes, and strive to create a fun, respectful atmosphere where attendees can feel good about themselves.”
Each girl determines her own financial need for obtaining a dress. Any high school girl is eligible by bringing a valid school ID.
Officials estimate that this year more than 1,200 dresses will be given away from March 15 to 22 at Westfield Horton Plaza and the El Cajon, South Chula Vista and Vista libraries. Appointments can be made starting in mid-February at
For details on donating or to volunteer during dress distribution since more than 600 individuals are needed, go to
or contact Chairwoman Jennifer Gaston at