HARRIS HEROES

Group home teens get chance to feel glamorous with 'Princess Party'

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BURTONSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - It's not every day these girls get to wear party gowns and high heels, or wear glittery jewelry.

But on this occasion, they are glamming it up, including makeup and a new 'do.

The girls, ages 14 to 20, live in group homes run by Hearts and Homes for Youth, based in Burtonsville, Md., and they can't afford such luxuries. Long-time volunteer Susan Davis, though, came up with a plan to change that.

"I was just purging, going through my closet, and I found I had dresses," Davis recalls. "A lot of them had tags on them, and I thought, I can do something with these dresses."

All of that turned into Princess Party - and an entire office floor transformed into a shopping mall, with not only gowns and shoes and jewelry, but also volunteers to do hair, makeup, and even teach the girls "the walk."

The reaction from the girls?

"I feel amazing," said 18-year-old Monat. "Every time you go to the next room, and the next room, and someone's lik,e 'you look amazing,' or 'that compliments you,' it's just really nice; a nice feeling."

But it's not just the pampering they appreciate.

"Not a lot of people have an opportunity to have this, so for people to take the time out...it feels like they actually care, it feels like everybody cares about us, said 18-year-old Sandra."

And just like the glass slipper transformed Cinderella's life, Rex Smith, founder and president of Hearts and Homes For Youth, hopes this evening will make a lasting impact on the girls.

"I want them to walk away from here feeling good about themselves, if just for this 4, 5, 6-hour period of time," Smith said. "That I feel will carry over and they'll feel better about themselves tomorrow morning, and the next day, and the day after that, because they'll never forget this."

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