Who wants to go to the ball?
HUNDREDS of Ipswich Cinderellas and Cinderfellas will soon go to the ball.
Tucked away high above the main street of Ipswich is a refuge lined with sparkling ball gowns, glamorous formal dresses and swanky suits for high school students who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend their night of nights.
The Fairy Godmother Project makes it all happen for free.
It started seven years ago when founder Sam Harrison was still paying off her daughter’s $1000 school formal dress a year after the big event.
She started collecting gowns and this month moved into an old formal wear shop on Brisbane St with hundreds of outfits ready for school formal season. Students need to flash their school ID and they can pick an entire outfit, from top to bottom, at no cost.
“The Fairy Godmother Project was created because of my own experiences as a single mum struggling to pay for my beautiful daughter’s formal dress. It was such a burden, it took me 12 months to pay it off. I am not resentful, but I wish there was help available,” Ms Harrison said.
“The reality is that many young men and women simply cannot afford to attend their formal. For a teenager faced with the prospect of having to admit that they don’t have the money to buy a dress or a suit, this can be completely humiliating and deflating. It removes the bright, shiny light at the end of the tunnel.
“Some of them feel like that without this goal, there’s no reason to stay at school, so they drop out.
“So many women and men have wardrobes filled with dresses and suits they don’t wear or need. Wouldn’t it be better to put these frocks and suits to good use? To use them to fulfil dreams and gift beautiful young people with a feeling of purpose, of confidence, and of self worth? We can help so many dreams to come true.”
It was an initiative that took the eye of Hearts and Minds Foundation director Greg Wallace who runs the charity to support children in education.
It aims to provide a world of possibilities, opportunities and dreams for every child, regardless of background or financial status, through access to education, a scenario made possible with a glamorous dress and a reason to stick out the school year.
“In Ipswich more than half of our young people do not finish high school and this is just not good enough,” he said.
“We have to do what we can to keep our kids in school. Being able to turn up in a gorgeous gown or dapper suit to their formal also positively contributes to their self-confidence. It’s a win-win on so many fronts.
“I was honoured to have been at the shop to see our first beautiful young lady officially fitted. It was all the thanks we need for doing what we do.
“The look on her face, the excitement, the gratitude, that feeling of worth, I wish we could bottle that for all young men and women.”
While the shop has some 500 plus dresses and suits, plus accessories, donations of all sizes and styles are always needed. Donations of time from make-up artists and hair stylists, as well as car hire companies, are also appreciated.
Current hours are Thursday and Friday from 3pm to 8pm, and on Saturday from 12pm. If these times do not work, appointments can be arranged.
The Fairy Godmother Project shop space is at 153 Brisbane Street Ipswich (above Choices Flooring) and has been donated by Steve and Jaye Mallet from Choices Flooring by Mallets.
“Ben and Libby Rawlings from Ipswich Dry Cleaners have also shown incredible support of the initiative,’ Ms Harrison said. Donations of suits, gowns and accessories can be made to Ipswich Dry Cleaners, 255 Brisbane St, Ipswich.
Visit www.facebook.com/ fairygodmotherproject for more information.