Military balls and other formal events at Vandenberg Air Force Base are set to get a little more stylish, thanks to the efforts of the Vandenberg Spouses’ Club.

The club celebrated the grand opening this month of a permanent facility for its Cinderella’s Closet program, which members started last year to collect formal attire and accessories that could be borrowed and worn to formal events.

Members of the Vandenberg Spouses’ Club used the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation’s 21st Annual Military Ball in November as a venue to spread awareness about their new charitable initiative. To do this, several members wore evening gowns that had been donated to the program.

Based on the results, it appears that people received their message.

Less than six months after kicking off the Cinderella’s Closet program, the club has now collected nearly 250 dresses, in addition to about 50 pairs of shoes and a variety of purses, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other accessories that can be worn to a variety of military events. It even has in its collection a handful of wedding dresses that can be borrowed.

Bonnie Martin and Heather Dunar, both board members of the Vandenberg Spouses’ Club, spearhead the Cinderella’s Closet initiative. They said they are thrilled with the recent momentum of the program.

“This has been such a rewarding experience to be involved with on many levels,” Martin said. “It has been incredibly inspiring to see the generosity of people from all walks of life eager to donate and make a difference in the lives of our local military families. Our ability to provide access to so many beautiful gowns certainly helps accomplish our goal of making it easier for military families to attend functions, and we can’t wait to continue building upon this recent success.”

In addition to the annual Military Ball, there are a number of other local events throughout the year that warrant formal attire, including the annual Vandenberg Awards Ceremony on Feb. 16, the Vandenberg Airman Leadership School graduation, the Air Force Ball, holiday parties, and other squadron events.

The new Cinderella’s Closet facility is located in VAFB’s Religious Education Center across from the chapel, and will provide those with base access a place to peruse and try on clothing and accessories.

The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation provided the funding for painting and flooring in the new facility.

Cinderella’s Closet provides gowns from sizes zero to 26 and shoes, jewelry, and purses for free. Those with base access can borrow a dress at no cost, provided they have it dry-cleaned before returning it.

The Vandenberg Spouses' Club is an all-inclusive charitable and social organization dedicated to promoting a sense of belonging to, and support for, the collective voice of the Vandenberg community.

Anyone who would like to donate a dress or accessories to Cinderella’s Closet can drop off items at the new facility. Donations can also be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial Building, 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, or donors can call ahead to schedule an appointment at 568-0020.

For more information, email Cinderella@vandenbergspousesclub.org.

This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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