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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thanks to Police, Cinderella Shall Go to the Ball

MTDresses donated to the Caring Heart Foundation being modeled at a fashion show.
Sometimes it takes a former policeman, a Russian charity and the wife of a British member of parliament to turn a scruffy Cinderella into a fairy tale princess. When Muscovite Olga Sokolova's husband-to-be saw her on their wedding day last September, he was awestruck, she said.

Sokolova, 20, who teaches drawing to elderly women at the Losinostrovsky social services center, picked out her white gown at "A Dress For Cinderella," a wedding and prom dress rental salon in northeastern Moscow.

The Caring Heart Foundation, a Russian charity, administers the program together with the city's social services.

Although Sokolova has both parents and a younger brother, her family is not well off. It is young women like her that the salon allows to borrow a brand new or once-worn wedding or evening dress free of charge.

The only thing the girls need to bring with them is a note from their social services center. "The program is needed and it is useful. Dresses cost a lot of money today, and I didn't like the cheap ones," Sokolova said. "The program lets you be the most beautiful girl on your wedding day."

Sokolova is one of a dozen brides and prom-goers who have benefited from the program, which was launched last June.

The dresses were initially delivered by the Nottinghamshire Police Aid Convoys, or NPAC, a British charity which first started taking clothing, shoes, blankets and other humanitarian aid to the Balkans over 12 years ago.

David Scott, a retired police inspector involved in the project, earlier this summer accompanied a container loaded with humanitarian aid, including shoes, clothes and 300 wedding dresses, to Moscow.

He also traveled to Krasnodar to launch a second "A Dress for Cinderella" salon.

"There is no project like this in Britain," Scott said. He added that dresses came from manufacturers, were samples from shops or donated by individuals.


Igor Tabakov / MT

A British policemen's charity donated a total of 300 wedding dresses to the project.

One donation came from the wife of a British member of parliament, Nick Palmer, who represents the Broxtowe area of Nottingham. Fiona Palmer said she decided to get in touch with the NPAC after watching a BBC news clip about Scott's trip to Russia. Fiona, who married Nick five years ago, said she hoped her dress would make someone as happy on her wedding day as she was. She wrote as much on a card she included with the dress, shoes and veil.

She added that her mother-in-law came from Gorky, now Nizhny Novgorod, and because she had died before the wedding, they felt it was "very nice that the dress was going back to Russia."

Olga Zotova, a social worker at the Altufyevsky social services center, who also works at the salon, said it was an important chance for young women to feel pampered and pretty.

"They are trying on evening dresses for the first time. Truly, these are dresses for a Cinderella," she said, adding that otherwise an underprivileged bride would probably get married without a proper wedding dress at all, or spend a lot of time saving up for one.

Recalling the comments she received from the guests, Sokolova said: "Everyone liked the dress, I truly felt like a Cinderella. It was a pity the wedding lasted just one day."

The Caring Heart Foundation can be contacted at: www.caringheart.ru. The salon is located at 56 Altufyevskoye Shosse, 2nd entrance, 1st floor. Tel. 901-0922.