There’s never been a better time to quit dreaming about squeezing into your old prom dress or tuxedo again, and instead give someone else the chance to look good in it.
The Fairy Gradmother Project is seeking gently used formal wear it can distribute to local Grade 12 students who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend prom.
“It’s not just the attire that we’re looking after, but we’re trying to do kind of the whole package for prom, even down to the tickets,” explained Michelle Glibbery, a member of the counselling team at Penticton Secondary School that’s organizing the project and also seeking cash donations and help from esthetics professionals.
Assistance will be made available to students from both Penticton and Princess Margaret Secondary Schools through the program, which replaces a predecessor dubbed the Cinderella Project.
Glibbery said students will have to apply for help, but the process is discreet.
“We will sometimes give kids a tap on the shoulder and bring them in and talk to them, especially if we know we’ve helped out with… school fees or things like that. We kind of have an idea of who might need help, even if they don’t want to ask,” she said.
Gifts are then tailored to the requests that students make in their applications.
“Some people have a dress that their sister wore or something, so they might not need the dress, but they need their hair (styled), and shoes and ticket (purchased),” Glibbery said.
Donated gowns don’t have to be of the latest style, since a dress could be altered to look more modern.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s current or not, it’s just nice that people are willing to help out teenagers,” she said.
Jasmine Clarke knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such kindness.
The 18-year-old got a dress last year through the Cinderella Project while she was living on her own and getting by on a tight budget.
“A prom dress just wasn’t an option,” the Penticton Secondary School graduate said.
Clarke estimates that buying a dress and shoes, plus having her hair and nails done, and purchasing a prom ticket would have set her back about $500, so she was grateful to get some help.
In the end, the Cinderella Project gave her “a big princess dress” in which she had the night of her life.
Prom “is one of the big milestones, especially in a girl’s life. They get to feel absolutely beautiful for one night and just have fun,” Clarke said. “It feels really good.”
She is now donating that dress back to the Fairy Gradmother so another girl can feel like a princess for a night.
Also helping out is the Penticton School of Hair, which is making its student stylists available as it did for the previous program.
“It’s great experience for the students. It gives them an opportunity to do some of the latest styles and the updos on their peers,” said owner Nancy Fletcher. “We usually close the school for the day and cater just to them.”
Student applications to the Fairy Gradmother Project are due in by the end of April. To apply for help, or to make a donation of clothing, cash or services, contact school counsellor Doug Scothburn at 250-770-7754 or email email@example.com.