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Unique centerpieces for Marissas Closet benefit
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Designer David Cradea and Melinda Shaw of Marissas Closet arrange dinner dance fund raiser centerpieces in the downtown Ripon closet building. Cradea designed the entire collection of centerpieces after the profiles of the many prom gowns given away to high school students. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON — Marissa’s Closet is staging a dinner dance Saturday night in the city’s community center at Fourth and Locust streets in an effort to raise funds in support of needy high school-aged teenagers.

The director of the non-profit, Melinda Shaw of Ripon, has spearheaded the effort designed to provide prom dresses to senior girls who could otherwise not be able to attend their formal graduation dances.   That effort is now being expanded to offer psychological services to those teens as well.

As Shaw and her volunteers were busy preparing for the dinner dance Wednesday afternoon, high school girls from two counties were in the building selecting dresses from the prom gown racks and standing in line to use the dressing rooms.

Napa designer David Cradea has worked overtime in creating centerpieces for the dinner tables of miniature prom gowns of every description to carry out the theme of the fund-raising event.

The night will begin with a no-host cocktail hour served by Lee Palleschi of Cold House Vodka Distillery of Modesto that promises to turn over 100 per cent of its profits to Marissa’s Closet.  Shaw promised a varied selection in addition to vodka.

Dinner tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance or at the door Saturday night.  Steaks and pasta are being prepared by Applebee’s and the salads are being donated by Ratto Brothers of Modesto.  The dessert table is to be hosted by bakeries from all over the valley including Sonora, Pleasanton and Modesto.

Over 100 items are being included in a silent auction that will accent a live auction that will include signed athletic jerseys, pictures and a ‘49ers football.  Disneyland tickets and tickets to the Dallas Cowboys home games are featured in the silent auction.

Dance music will be provided by DJ Jessie Lopez and comedians Chris Teicheira and Anthony Krayenhagen promise to keep their audience in stitches.

An added attraction to the dinner dance slated for Saturday night is the Art Thom’s Collectibles bringing autographed sports memorabilia to the event.  A portion of any sales will go in support of the Ripon non-profit.

Marissa’s Closet has been housed in the former Ripon Drug Store building free of charge for the past two years.  The building is being sold and the group is attempting to buy a building three blocks to the east at 104 West Main Street in the heart of the old downtown section.

The non-profit has raised $9,000 to date for the new site, but it must have a total of $20,000 for the down payment within a month to secure the location. 

Marissa’s Closet Facebook page has had 150 hits so far this week and residents are urged to visit. Those wishing to secure available tickets for the dinner dance may call 613-0836. The website is There is an age minimum requirement of 18 years or older to attend Saturday night.