Miss Cullman Area Pageant fills shelves of Curt’s Closet


Ashley Wilson embraces community service winner Molly Anne Lindsey, who brought in 786 donated items for Curt’s Closet.  (Photo courtesy Alabama Pageants)

CULLMAN – If you think beauty pageants are just about makeup, hairspray and posing, read on.  A pageant here in Cullman County has defied the stereotype, including in its competition a community service component that resulted in a huge boost to a popular local charity.

Curt’s Closet, started by Ashley Lee Wilson to honor the memory of her son Curtis, who died in a 2017 automobile accident, provides all types of clothing and accessories for kids of families in need.  Wilson accepts donations of “lightly used” items, but seeks new undergarments, for obvious reasons.

For this past weekend’s Miss Cullman Area Pageant, contestants were challenged to bring in donations of those badly needed items, and they rose to that challenge beyond anything event coordinator/host Tonya Hall had imagined, donating 1,663 articles to Curt’s Closet.  Of those, 786 items came from one contestant, Molly Anne Lindsey, who received the pageant’s Community Service Award for her work.

On Sunday afternoon, Hall talked to The Tribune about her decision to feature Curt’s Closet:

“My relationship with Ashley- (I) didn’t know her before Curt was killed, but I worked in the school system for two years as a temporary aide, and Curt was in my classroom.  And so, I was working at the high school when Curt was killed and had him in class. 

“And I was working with the baseball coach, and of course Curt played baseball.  So it was kind of two-fold for me, because I was watching the baseball team and the baseball coach go through this process of losing Curt.  I was going through this process of–I wasn’t prepared to lose a student.  And he’s such a great kid: he’s just the funniest guy ever.  And then, trying to be there for the students and his classmates.  And then, I had a daughter that was in the school also.  She’s a junior, and so she’s a year behind Curt. 

“But when I decided to do this pageant, then I wanted to do something for Curt’s Closet.  So we allocated our community service portion of the pageant, where we try and encourage and enlighten girls and their families about causes in the community, and encourage them to give back, so it’s not just about 'me, me, me.'”

Hall praised Lindsey’s achievement, and went on to say of the other girls, “We had some little girls that brought in 200, 300 items.  One little girl had relatives mailing her undergarments from Pennsylvania.  Amazing that they all got so behind that.

“It’s just important for people to know that pageants aren’t always about a hairstyle, dress and makeup.  It’s about girls that have really big hearts being able to show that pageants can have a purpose, too.  When they enter the Miss Alabama/Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen system, they have to have a platform that is a community service-based platform, so I think that it’s a good opportunity, at this age, to expose them to those things, if they want to pursue pageantry at another level and start getting some of that in their mind: that there is more out there that they can do with their time and their talents besides 'me, me, me.'

“I think those little girls showed yesterday that they have some really big hearts.  A lot of them had no idea what Curt’s Closet was until I introduced Curt’s Closet to them.  And then some of them took donations of other things directly to Curt’s Closet, because I shared with them what Curt’s Closet was.  So Ashley messaged me before and said, ‘Hey, we’ve already got some donations.  I know you’re giving these girls credit.’

“There were a lot of people in the pageant that weren’t from Cullman.  There were people from Addison, there were people from Spanish Fort, there were people from Oneonta.  And so, I think it was good exposure for Curt’s Closet, and for Ashley and Curt.”

Ashley Wilson responds to gift

Wilson attended Saturday’s Pageant at Etha Baptist Church, to receive the donations and meet the girls who had brought them.  On Sunday, she told The Tribune:

“The donations of the new undergarments from Miss Cullman Area Pageant will make a huge impact for so many children that come into Curt's Closet.  I have met many families that are thrilled we offer new undergarments and socks.  These items are so expensive; most families tell me they do without or only know what it is like to have hand-me-downs undergarments.  No child should have to go without these items or wear used undergarments.  I was blown away with how many items the pageant collected, 1,663!  I left there with a car load of new undergarments and tears of joy streaming down my face.”

How is Curt’s Closet doing these days?

“God is blessing Curt's Closet every time I blink,” said Wilson.  “He sends me angels with exactly what our needs are at the time.  In the weeks leading up to start of school, Curt's Closet saw nearly 200 children; with our recent seasonal switch to fall/winter, we anticipate that many and more in the upcoming weeks.  We have so many coats, pullovers and items to keep these children warm throughout the upcoming cold months.”

Get involved!

Curt's Closet, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, can always use tax-deductible monetary donations to cover expenses.  Wilson said she can still use new undergarments and socks in adult sizes for older teenagers, as well as school shoes, which seem to leave the boutique almost as fast as they arrive.  Find how to get in touch at the end of this story.

The Miss Cullman Area Pageant

The Miss Cullman Area Pageant offers prizes to contestants from babies to high school seniors in nine age groups and multiple categories.  This weekend’s pageant winners included:


Baby Miss 0-11 months

Queen – Charli Claire Golden

1st Alternate – Kinsley Mae Brooks

Most Photogenic – Charli Claire Golden

Prettiest Eyes – Amaya Gomez

Best Dress – Charli Claire Golden

Prettiest Hair – Ava Claire Pettit

Prettiest Smile – Kinsley Mae Brooks


Tiny Miss 12-23 months

Queen – Sadie Jolee Alexander

1st Alternate – Ella James Buckner

Most Photogenic – Sadie Jo Alexander

Prettiest Eyes – Ella James Buckner

Best Dress – Briley Drake

Prettiest Hair – Sadie Jo Alexander

Prettiest Smile – Skyla Rose Houpt


Petite Miss 2-3 years

Queen – Elaina Weigand

1st Alternate – Alaina Pearce

2nd Alternate – Brynleigh Drake

Most Photogenic – Lillian Edwards

Prettiest Eyes – Anna Kate Underwood

Best Dress – Maggie Reid Miller

Prettiest Hair – Elaina Weigand

Prettiest Smile – Brynleigh Drake


Precious Miss 4 years-Kindergarten

Queen – Hogan Ordis

Alternates – Averi Terry and Lois Ann Jennings

Prettiest Eyes – Lois Ann Jennings

Best Dress – Hogan Ordis

Prettiest Hair – Averi Terry

Prettiest Smile – Averi Terry


Little Miss 1st-2nd Grade

Queen – Amelia Clyde

1st Alternate – Karington Ray Harper

2nd Alternate – Jantzen Litchford

Most Photogenic – Jantzen Litchford

Prettiest Eyes – Karrington Ray Harper

Best Dress – Amelia Clyde

Prettiest Hair – Jantzen Litchford

Prettiest Smile – Mary Ottilige


Beautiful Miss 3rd-4th Grade

Queen – Rylee Jade Williamson

1st Alternate – Caroline Grace Dowdy

Most Photogenic – Rylee Jade Williamson

Prettiest Eyes – Norah Bridges

Best Dress – Rylee Jade Williamson

Prettiest Hair – Caroline Grace Dowdy

Prettiest Smile – Molly Ann Lindsey


Pre-Teen Miss 5th-6th Grade

Queen – Katie Bartlett

1st Alternate – Kaylee Neuschwander

Most Photogenic – Mattie Wisener

Prettiest Eyes – Mattie Wisener

Best Dress – Katie Bartlett

Prettiest Hair – Meri Kayte Flynn

Prettiest Smile – Kaylee Neuschwander


Junior Miss 7th-9th Grade

Queen – Sydney Clyde

1st Alternate – McKenna Pesola

Most Photogenic – Sydney Clyde

Prettiest Eyes – Sydney Clyde

Best Dress – McKenna Pesola

Prettiest Hair – Sierra Warnick

Prettiest Smile – Zoe Vincent


Miss 10th-12th Grade

Queen – Kaylee Johnson

1st Alternate – Meagan Brooke Miller

Most Photogenic – Cassidy Heinrich

Prettiest Eyes – Mattilen Nelson

Best Dress – Kaylee Johnson

Prettiest Hair – Meagan Brooke Miller

Prettiest Smile – Cassidy Heinrich


Look for a gallery of photos from the pageant on The Tribune’s Facebook page.  Thanks to Alabama Pageants, Tonya Hall, and contestants’ parents for sharing with us.

For more on the Miss Cullman Area Pageant, visit www.facebook.com/pageantsinalabama/. 

For more on Curt’s Closet, or to find out about helping or getting help, visit www.facebook.com/cw20curtscloset/ or call 256-735-4557.

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