For five years, Cindy Williams has joined two of her best friends, Julia Adkins and Carol Jones in putting together the American Girl Fashion Show to support the Child Advocacy. For the women, it’s an opportunity to enjoy each other’s time while raising funds for a charity that is near and dear to their heart. More importantly, for Williams, it’s an opportunity to teach her daughter about giving.
Her daughter has been modeling in the show for the past five years, and while this may be her last year in the show, Williams doesn’t see it as the last of her volunteer time with the Child Advocacy Center.
“This is something we do together,” said Williams. “She loves to volunteer with me each year to put the show together. If she is not on stage, she is right by my side helping me get things done. She and her friends have told us (Williams and her cochairs) that we have to continue to organize the show until they are old enough to take it over.”
It is that kind of caring and desire to give back to the community that Williams sees the fashion show promoting in the girls who participate in the event each year. She explained that there are 141 models involved in this year’s show, many of whom have returned year after year. The models, all volunteers from within the community, work hard to prepare for the show, but also in raising funds for the agency. So far, they have been very successful. With a goal of $50,000, last year the show raised more than $45,000 for the Child Advocacy Center.
“We’ve been doing this for a number of years and several of the girls, like my daughter, are aging out. We have a lot of new girls this year,” she said, “but so many of them come back year after year. It is in their heart to give back to the community. It makes me proud to see that in them.”
The $50,000 goal has been the target for a number of years, and each year the girls inch closer to it.
“Every year we get higher and higher,” said Williams. “This year could be the year.”
For those not in the know, the American Girl Fashion Show is a national fundraiser designed around the American Girl books. The show, originated by the makers of the books and accompanying dolls, is designed to raise funds for child-centered nonprofits like the Child Advocacy Center.
The CAC, celebrating its 20th year, has as its purpose alleviating the “trauma children experience once a disclosure of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse occurs by creating a community of collaborating advocates.”
The advocates come together under the auspices of the agency to coordinate services for child abuse victims and their families by providing a safe and child-friendly environment where professionals from 19 community agencies work together to interview, investigate and provide support for abused children by reducing the number of interview and providing specially trained personnel to conduct the interviews. In addition to the hands-on interaction with the children, the CAC provides continuing education to professionals who serve child abuse victims, as well as serving as an advocate in the community to raise awareness about child abuse.All of that comes with a cost, some of which is covered through state and federal funds as well as corporate and individual sponsorships. Started as a nonprofit volunteer agency, the CAC still depends on support of individuals in the community to fund its programs. That’s why the American Girl Fashion Show has been so successful. It lets the community take ownership of the agency by allowing children to provide support for other children.
“The caring these children show is modeled in the American Girl books,” explained Williams. “They are so wholesome and show strong role models for girls.”
Over the years the event has evolved from strictly a showing of the dolls with the models to a family event replete withe special events and refreshments. This year, the number of vendors who participate in the show has increased. They sell everything from clothes for the dolls to pretty things for the girls and their moms. The students at Paul Mitchell Beauty School are returning this year to provide manicures and hairstyles for girls and their moms the day of the event. All funds raised by the school go directly back to the CAC. This year’s show has a Western theme as it is based on the newest American Girl doll, Sage.“We’ve changed up the menu and the set is just beautiful,” said Williams. “It’s a complete Western theme.”
In addition to the introduction of Sage, the new historical doll being unveiled is Caroline. Locals may recognize the doll as it is modeled after one of last year’s models, Mya Long. Long, who participated in last year’s show, went to New York to audition for the American Girl company, and was selected as the face of the new doll.
The show is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 at the Crown Ballroom. The event includes elegant refreshments, party favors, raffles and door prizes. Tickets to the event are still available and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Crown Box Office. VIP tickets with seating close to the stage is also available. For more information, visit the CAC website at www.childadvocacycenter.com.