All dolled up

Cassandra Carraher figures she owns four or five American Girl dolls. So taking part in the American Girl fashion show at the Albany Country Club is kind of a big deal.

Cassandra is assigned an American Girl doll and gets to wear an outfit that matches the doll. Holding it, she walks out in front of a crowd of a couple hundred people. An announcer tells everyone her name and her hobbies.

Seven-year-old Cassandra is giggly as she talks about the experience. But the girl who helped her mom collect donations for the YMCA when she was just 3 she doesn't laugh when she talks about her favorite part: knowing that she's helping to raise money for charity.

Cassandra provides a snapshot of an event that's equal parts fun and philanthropy. Now in its 14th year, the fashion show, sponsored by the Junior League, will be held at the country club in Voorheesville on Friday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 19, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

It's a great way to have a multi-generational outing, Cassandra's mom, Jennifer, said. "It's a nice event, a nice day or night, and it's also raising money for a good cause."

That cause changes every few years. This year, the show will benefit the Junior League's pairing with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which provides one age-appropriate book each month to children up to 5 years old within Albany city limits.

Carraher learned about the fashion show " and the Junior League " a few years ago when her daughter wanted to visit the American Girl doll store in Manhattan. As Carraher was doing Internet research on the store, she stumbled upon a listing for the fashion show.

"It looked like something I'd like to get involved in," said Carraher.

So, she joined the league, an organization of women bound by volunteerism and a desire to improve the community. The Junior League isn't a charitable organization in and of itself; its members both help out existing causes and launch new ones. Projects it has helped get off the ground in the Capital District include the Ronald McDonald House, Equinox, Gilda's Club and Race for the Cure. It adopted the Imagination Library in 2008 with hopes of helping it also establish roots here.

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