For a little girl in need, a fancy dress can make a big difference.
That’s the idea behind the Newport Beach-based charity that two local 9-year-old girls dreamed up.
“We thought about how much we have that others don’t have and so we decided that maybe we should give them something too,” said Brooke Besikof, one of the young visionaries that founded the charity Just a Little Cloth. “Because every girl deserves to have something (pretty).”
“(When I wear a pretty dress), it makes me feel like a princess,” added Alyssa Antoci, the other half of the young dressy duo. “I want them to feel the same way we feel when we put on our fancy dresses.”
“Every girl deserves to feel beautiful,” she added.
Just a Little Cloth provides new, formal dresses to underprivileged girls, young girls fighting cancer or other serious illnesses, and other girls in need.
Owning a beautiful, formal dress can change the way a young girls sees herself, it can give her confidence and self-esteem, and give her a positive outlook on life, according to the charity’s mission statement.
The two girls, who have been friends since kindergarten, started out with the idea of designing and creating dresses for their own store, but when that proved to be too difficult, they reconsidered and came up with the idea of donating dresses to the less fortunate.
“The girls envisioned bringing joy to many deserving under-privileged girls through the gift of beautiful, new dresses,” their website states.
The girls went to their mothers, Tiffany Antoci and Sarah Besikof, with their vision, and officially launched Just a Little Cloth in March of 2012.
“They have a love of helping others,” Besikof said, “and at the same time, they’ve always loved fashion and clothes. So it was a great pairing of the two different worlds.”
“The beauty of this idea is that it’s addressing a small problem that has a big impact,” Besikof added.
Their first donation event was for young girls from El Sol Science and Arts Academy in Santa Ana. The school staff picked 10 deserving girls, ages 6 to 12, to receive the dresses and attend a tea party hosted by Just a Little Cloth.
At the party, the girls had their hair and makeup done and wore their dresses in a fashion show.
Some of these girls have never had a nice dress before, Besikof said.
Alyssa and Brooke also attended the tea party and were able to see what an impact the dresses and day of pampering had on the girls.
“They can actually see the difference they’re making right in front of them,’ Besikof said.
They were very touched by what they saw, Antoci added.
“It really makes us feel good to give people dresses when we see their smiles on their faces,” Alyssa said.
“It makes our hearts so happy,” Brooke said.
The non-profit has grown to include little girls who have serious illnesses.
“It evolved from underprivileged (girls), to any girl that’s in need, that’s going through a tough time in their life, that might need a little sunshine to brighten their day,” Sarah Besikof said.
Their next event, scheduled for mid-January, is a princess party in the playroom of the oncology floor at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County for patients going through treatment.
This is a great way for the girls to learn the importance of helping others, their moms agreed.
“It feels like we’re helping the world,” Brooke said. “Helping can make a difference.”
“It makes us so happy and proud that we did this,” said Alyssa.
There is no strict age limit for the girls that receive the dresses, but they aim for school aged girls, 12 or younger. They accept new dresses and monetary donations.
They give three choices to the girls, so they can pick a dress that is fitting to their own style. Not every girl wants to be a princess wearing a sparkly and poofy dress, noted Alyssa and Brooke, but every girl wants to feel beautiful.
“We like thinking about how the other girls feel when they try on the dresses,” Brooke said. “Because when we try on a dress, we feel like complete princesses, we feel like royalty. And when those girls that are less fortunate than us try on a beautiful dress we think that’s really awesome that they’re able to have that opportunity. These girls can always know that they are always going to be beautiful on the inside and the outside.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.justalittlecloth.com.