05/25/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT
Pam Philipp remembers every detail of her prom night 40 years ago—especially her hot-pink A-line gown. "It was perfect," says Pam, 58, a homemaker and mom of a college-age daughter in a suburb of St. Paul. After reading about donated prom dresses for Hurricane Katrina survivors and sensing a need in her own community, she launched Operation Glass Slipper (operation glassslipper.org). Pam started the program in 2007 out of her basement; she solicits donated gowns, shoes and jewelry, and a crew of 275 volunteers helps with fittings and alterations in a marathon weekend at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. This year, girls picked up 1,020 dresses. "My family is tight for money," says Lacey Fredrickson, 18, whose trucker dad has worked extra hours. Lacey wore a purple-satin number to her prom April 25. "This made me very happy."
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