About 40 girls from throughout the district’s eight high schools, will be picked up in limos and taken to the Lake Sumter State College campus in Leesburg, where more than 300 donated party dresses – each dry-cleaned and sorted by volunteers – will be waiting, hung and ready to be tried on and possibly chosen for the occasion.

EUSTIS – It’s prom season and with that comes the worry most girls face in finding – and paying for – the perfect dress, shoes, accessories, jewelry and up-dos.


For some, the task is not only daunting, but plain impossible.


That, however, is where the Abracadabra Foundation comes in.


The non-profit organization with a mission to motivate, inspire and enable low income high school girls in Lake County is hosting Prom Project 2020 on Saturday.


About 40 girls from throughout the district’s eight high schools, will be picked up in limos and taken to the Lake Sumter State College campus in Leesburg, where more than 300 donated party dresses – each dry-cleaned and sorted by volunteers – will be waiting, hung and ready to be tried on and possibly chosen for the occasion.


The girls will be paired with community volunteers ready to help them shop, along with area hairdressers, make-up artists and nail techs who will transform them Cinderella-style while teaching them how to recreate the looks on their actual prom night.


Still, the foundation is in need of volunteer personal shoppers, hair stylists and nail techs.


All the girls will also be given glam bags with toiletries, gift cards and goodies, plus a voucher to pay for their prom tickets.


“We’re just kind of giving that that Cinderella moment in preparation for prom,” said Brittney Falconer, 23, a volunteer with the organization and an Abracadabra past recipient herself.


According to Asha Dampier, one of the Foundation’s founders, Abracadabra was born from a simple brainstorm and desire to give back to the community by herself and two friends – Mary Salter and Yolanda Taylor.


She said all three had attended Eustis High School together and stayed friends through college. Then, after having started a wedding planning business and after coming across a Daily Commercial article in 2009 about the high homelessness rate among students, they came up with the idea to help local girls get to their proms.


After all, Dampier said, they had access to bridesmaids dresses though their business and knew friends and colleagues in the industry that could help.


Fast forward 11 years. Today, the foundation has impacted more than 400 homeless and low-income high schools girls by not only gifting them with prom dresses, but lifting their self-esteem and providing confidence to drive them past their circumstances.


Additionally, the Abracadabra Foundation continued to evolve and began hosting mentoring retreats – intimate sessions with a smaller group of approximately 20 girls with topics covering from social stereotypes and self-branding – to networking and relationship building.


In Spring 2014, Abracadabra hosted its first College Tour, which today exposes nearly 30 girls each summer to a new dream and vision of what their future can be, and each year, awards college scholarships to previous Abracadabra program participants.


Program sponsors include Mount Dora’s Chik fil-A, Insight Credit Union and Sonny’s BBQ, Lake Sumter State College, Lake Tech, Kohl’s, the Charmettes of Lake County and other civic organizations that step up throughout the year.


“We don’t want girls to lose out on the experience of going to prom. It’s a big deal and it’s something they will always remember and we’ve literally had girls come back years later and tell us they still remember their Abracadara moment,” Dampier said.


Dampier continued: “But it really is just more than getting them to prom, it’s about encouraging them and letting them know that there is a community that is rooting for them and that is standing behind them.”


The Foundation is still in need of donations and volunteers to help make Saturday as magical as it can be.


Dampier describes the event as a fun day of connecting and fellowship.


Falconer also said she highly recommends the experience but warned of one of the unexpected side effects.


“Abracadabra has been pivotal in my life. I was part of their first college tour and became a scholarship recipient, but most of all, it exposed me to the opportunities and options I had in life and motivated me into achieving success,” Falconer said. “Now I’m volunteering and still soaking in the moment and still growing and learning because as much as I continue trying to pour into the girls, they are pouring into me.”