“During my senior year, there were some family issues and a lot of bills landed on my brother and myself. I was working as much as I could at Teddy’s (Restaurant) in Nickelsville to help pay the bills,” said Hutson. “When I started bringing in permission slips that were signed by my brother, my teacher pulled me aside and asked me what was going on.”
Hutson said she explained everything to her teacher and expected to get in trouble.
“Instead, she wrote me a check for $100 and helped me pay off my prom dress so I could go to prom,” said Hutson. “But when I went to pay her back, she told me she didn’t want me to pay her back and she wouldn’t accept my money.”
That was in 2012. Four years later, Hutson has found herself in a position to “pay it forward.”
Now, 21 years old and the mother to a 14-month-old son, Hutson is helping local high school girls with their own prom expenses, which can reach upward of several hundred dollars.
“Proms can be so expensive, especially for the girl,” Hutson said. “Besides the dress, shoes and jewelry, you have to get the hair and makeup done. All of this takes a toll on the wallet.”
Earlier this month, Hutson created a group on Facebook called “Getting Cinderella to Her Ball.” She used this platform to explain what she hoped to accomplish. She posted that she was looking for people who were willing to donate prom dresses, shoes, jewelry or purses.
“I have had more than 30 people contact me, willing to donate dresses and high-end makeup and jewelry and shoes and purses. People just started donating to the cause out of the kindness of their hearts,” she said.
“Besides the dresses, we’re able to offer free hair and makeup. I have a lot of licensed cosmetologists that I know, and they’ve offered to help me out with the hair and makeup. I have a friend who is doing their nails for free. I’ve even had older ladies, like grandmothers, who have donated money. This definitely has gone above and beyond my expectations, completely.”
A number of girls in the area have heard about what Hutson is doing and have reached out to her.
“They’ve found me either through Facebook or word of mouth,” she said. “I want to help all that I can, whether it’s one girl or a hundred girls.”
Hutson said this is anonymous and that no one will know who is receiving help from her project. However, she does require a parent’s permission.
“I want to speak to both the girl and her parent. And any time they are going to try on a dress, or pick up a dress, or return one they’ve borrowed, they have to be accompanied by an adult.”
However, Hutson’s most important request of the girls is that they, too, “pay it forward” one day.
“All I ask is that they tell their story, like I’m doing with them, and keep this going.”
If you’d like to make a donation to help Cinderella get to her ball, or if you know of a local high school student who could use some help with prom expenses, visit the “Getting Cinderella to Her Ball” Facebook group or call Hutson at (423) 367-1595.