An innovative volunteer group that has provided more than 600 local girls with a free grad or prom dresses will fold unless a new organizer steps up.
Debbie Anderson founded The Cinderella Story in 2009 and says it’s time for her to move on to other causes. Other board members left when Anderson resigned.
“There is a need for this to continue and we hope that someone else will take it on under a new name,” she said.
Organizing The Cinderella Story, which culminates in an annual one-day “boutique” for girls to select a dress, has taken five to 20 hours a week of Anderson’s time for a decade.
She says she tried succession planning but it didn’t work. Yet Anderson said she hasn’t given up hope someone will ensure local girls graduating in 2019 can have a dress even if family finances are tight.
“It was not an easy decision for me,” she said. “I’ve had sleepless nights over this, but I have other things I’m passionate about and I need to pursue them or I will regret it.”
Anderson came up with The Cinderella Story after an acquaintance in a grocery store line confided her Grade 12 daughter wouldn’t be attending her prom because the family couldn’t afford a dress.
“I called a couple of people and got her a dress and everything was perfect for her,” Anderson recalled.
The first dress drive produced 100 donated dresses. Nine girls got a dress, no-questions-asked.
The event grew annually and became a provincially registered not-for-profit in 2016. The boutique was held in various locations, most recently at 100 Christina St. The peak year saw 127 girls receive dresses, shoes and jewelry.
Teachers aware of students who couldn’t afford a prom or grad dress often brought girls to the boutique or supported it in other ways.
“We had tears every year, both from the volunteers and the girls,” Anderson said. “One dad with three daughters came to us with each one. Every time, he was in tears.
“He said it was so nice to know there are people out there who care.”
The Cinderella Story’s not-for-profit status has been surrendered. Anderson said she still gets offers of donations but has to turn them down.
About 1,200 dresses are in The Cinderella Story’s inventory and storage is paid until the end of December.
To inquire about resurrecting The Cinderella Story under a new name, contact Debbie Anderson at [email protected].