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Seamstress to help girls find right dress for magical evening

 Janet Biondo of Aurora thinks all girls should have a magical prom experience.

 Magic doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money, though, as Biondo knows.

 She has helped countless girls find the dresses of their dreams for little or no dough.Hannah one

 She volunteered for Cinderella’s Closet – a charity that matches girls with gowns – for almost 10 years. (Cinderella’s Closet started in Aurora but now operates out of Elgin.) 

 This year, Biondo is going to act as the volunteer seamstress for the Aurora Public Library’s “Say Yes to the Prom Dress” event on Saturday, April 5. The event runs from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the lower level Multipurpose Room of the Main Library at 1 E. Benton St. in downtown Aurora.

 One of Biondo’s tasks will be to help dress-seekers determine if a dress can be altered to fit them.

“You can take in a dress a little bit, but letting one out is almost impossible on formalwear,” Biondo said. “If a dress doesn’t fit that well, it’s best to pick out a few others to try on,” she added.

“Easily 95 percent or more of the girls walk out with a dress,” Biondo said. “They really, really do. You just have to remind them that formalwear runs really, really small. And sizing is not universal. Sometimes a girl will look at a dress and decide not to try it on based on the size on the tag.

“But with my experience, I know what will work well on a body type. And, I know that the really tiny girls and the bigger girls have an equally difficult time finding dresses. Just because you’re a big girl, it doesn’t mean you want to look like a grandmother, and because you’re small, you don’t want to look like a child.”

Biondo has quite a bit of experience… not only as a volunteer with Cinderella’s Closet, but also with her own children. She and her husband have seven children combined – four girls.

“One reason I started volunteering was that I can use a skill I have,” Biondo said. “We don’t have a lot of money to donate to a lot of things, but I can donate my time and my talent. Emotionally, I get so much out of it. There is such positive energy. The girls are so happy, and to know I had a small part in making their evening magical is very gratifying.” 

The library has been collecting dresses since last November, and thanks to the generosity of community members, has more than 100 to give away. The Teen Librarians who are planning the event ask only that each girl bring one canned food item to trade for a dress. The food will be donated to a local food pantry.

There will be a small dressing room for the girls to use. Stevens Cleaners of Aurora is donating 15 percent off dry cleaning coupons to make dress cleaning more affordable.

Biondo said it’s hard to believe how much girls spend on prom today. “When you talk shoes, jewelry, hair, nails, handbag and, a wrap it adds up quickly.”

She’s impressed that many girls go to prom in groups instead of one-on-one dates. “I think it’s wonderful they are secure enough to do that,” she said. “We have raised girls to believe they don’t have to go with a date to have a good time.”

As for the hours Biondo, teen volunteers and library staff will put in helping girls find dresses, Biondo said: “We will all be very tired afterward, but it will be a very, very happy tired.”

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