Julia Bramstedt was looking for the perfect prom dress on Saturday. She left with a long, green empire-waisted tulle dress in hand.

“I just found this one and I liked it,” she said.

Bramstedt, a senior at Ellensburg High School, purchased her dress through the Fairy Godmother Project at Central Washington University. The effort aims to help high school students find affordable prom dresses.

Bramstedt planned to look at dresses at the event last year, but was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. She took advantage of the fact that the event was scheduled earlier this year.

“Last year I wanted to go to this, but I’m in track,” she said.

“Track had started so I had to go to a track meet instead. This year a friend realized it was earlier so I could go.”

Bramstedt’s friend Lindsay Engels came along to provide support and opinions on dresses.

“I also just wanted to see the dresses,” said Engels, who already purchased her prom dress. “I wish I had gone here.”

CWU students

Saturday was the sixth time CWU students held the event to help high school students in Kittitas County. It first started when a student in the apparel, textiles and merchandising program reached out to her fashion merchandising professor, Andrea Eklund, about it after hearing it was being done around the nation.

“One of my students knew about it and said she wanted to do it so we started it,” Eklund said.

The annual event is hosted by the CWU Student Fashion Association Club and the apparel, textiles and merchandising program. Eklund is the adviser for the club.

About 25 college student volunteers helped put the event together, starting in September. They collected donations at CWU and posted the information on social media websites and around Ellensburg.

Accessories, too

About 100 dresses were available for girls to purchase on Saturday, along with shoes, jewelry and handbags. Girls paid a $5 entry fee, and were then able to purchase items for $5-$40. There was no limit to the number of dresses people could purchase, meaning girls could also shop for graduation or other formal events.

“We try to get them dressed from head to toe,” Eklund said. “It’s just nice to be able to give back to the community. Going to prom is so expensive, so this really makes it much more accessible to a lot of students who wouldn’t be able to go.”

Some of the dresses were donated by CWU students, while others were donated by community members.

The upstairs room in the student union was transformed into a department store. Dresses in every color lined the racks, jewelry and shoes were laid out on the tables, and each girl was assigned a personal shopper to help her find dresses and accessories to make the experience special.

The money raised by the event goes toward the Student Fashion Association Club’s annual trade show trip. The group returned on Thursday from a fashion trade show in Las Vegas.

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