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Here to help

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HANDWRITTEN HAPPINESS:A myriad of handwritten cards are filled out by those who attended the Fairy Godmother Project event.
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HELPING HANDS:Volunteers at Saturday’s Fairy Godmother Project event stand by to assist at the dress racks.
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ACCESSORIZING:Fairy Godmother Project volunteers operate the accessory table duringSaturday’sevent.

BY Collin Groves - Peru Tribune Correspondent

With prom approaching schools all over the state, the unavoidable financial pressures of the event loom in the distance for many parents as well as aspiring prom attendees.

A group of volunteers from around Miami County came to the rescue of many Saturday at the old and retired St. Charles Borromeo School in Peru.

Dubbed the Fairy Godmother Project, parents and students from all three schools in Miami County, St. Charles church members and others came together to secure dress donations that were free for those that attended the event.

The event has occurred annually for about seven years, and the process is simple.

Volunteers begin planning toward the end of October and begin obtaining dress donations. Donations often come from local businesses for even individual donors, but the student representatives are often those given the task of contacting the donors.

“It’s good practice for the girls to get out in the community,” said Mary Day, a veteran member of the Fairy Godmother Project.

Once the donations are gathered and the date for the event is set, it takes about three hours on-site to get set up.

This year, the room was split into two sections with the “second chance” dresses – pieces a little less formal than prom-style settings – on one side of the room, and the other dresses placed on the other, along with a station for free corsages and also a spot for minor dress repairs.

“Prom is expensive,” Day said. “Our goal to give every girl the opportunity to go to prom.”

Even though the process is simple and straightforward, Day said a host of problems still remain, with advertising being chief among them.

“We try to advertise through the radio, social media and we send out emails to all the local newspapers,” Day said. “But the event is open to anyone, so we try to get as many girls from out of town as we can.”

While offering free dresses provides aid for plenty of girls and families in the county that might not have been able to attend prom otherwise, the organization attempts to avoid possible judgement that accompanies their work.

“I think there is a stigma that attaches itself to these events that people associate with financial hardship. Some girls don’t want to come in because of that,” Day said. “But the event is open for anyone and we emphasize that.”

Not only does the Fairy Godmother Project help those in the community, but it also gives those involved experience in constructing events while showing the importance of giving back to the community.

“For many of the girls involved they are getting their hours for the National Honors Society or the Golden Guard,” Day said. “But a lot of them really enjoy helping others.

After the event concludes, any remaining dresses are donated to St. Vincent De Paul.