031815uac031815001.gif From their first princess dress, to their prom dress to their wedding dress, most little girls take delight in dressing up and having a moment in the spotlight. For the past seven years, girls in Cumberland County have had the opportunity to do more than dress up, they have had the opportunity to take a walk down the runway during the American Girl Fashion Show.

Of course, these girls are getting more than a moment in the spotlight, they are taking the opportunity to help children who have suffered abuse by supporting the work of the Child Advocacy Center. This annual fundraiser for the organization is unique in that each of the models chosen to participate in the fashion show has to help raise money for the organization, so the fashion show actually becomes a lesson in civic participation.

One, which many of the girls continue throughout their lives.

Julia Adkins has been working with the American Girl Fashion Show since its inception. Adkins, and her co-chairs, Cindy Williams and Carol Wheeler, were members of the Junior League. The Child Advocacy Center came to the Junior League looking for a grant to help put the show together. The idea intrigued them. The Junior League not only gave them the grant, but the three ladies volunteered to help with the first show. For the past seven years, they have organized the entire event.

Adkins explained that all three had daughters who were of the age to have American Girl Dolls and to participate in the show. As their daughters aged out of the show, they continued to support it because of the need in the community that the Child Advocacy Center fills.

Adkins, whose daughter is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that most girls who participate return as long as they can. She noted her daughter was in the show until she was too old to walk the runway, and then she became a commentator.

“Even now, she is very involved,” said Adkins. “She will call home and ask me what the show schedule is and if we have fittings or anything, she will come home to participate. She will be commenting again this year. A lot of the girls who participate in the show take child abuse and prevention on as a personal platform throughout their lives.”

But for the little girls who love American Girl Dolls, the fashion show isn’t a serious event. Instead it is a magical afternoon filled with everything they love: their dolls and their families. It’s an elegant afternoon of tea and party food. As in years past, girls are encouraged to bring their dolls with them to the show and shop at the American Girl store for more outfits or maybe let their dolls have a spa day at the beauty parlor.

And while they marvel at the excitement that surrounds them, they will support children much less fortunate. Last year the show raised $64,000 to help fund the work of the Child Advocacy Center.

Show times are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 21 and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on March 22. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Crown Center Box Office. VIP tickets with seating close to the stage are available. For more information, please visit the CAC website at www.childadvocacycenter.com or call 910-486-9700.

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