- Associated Press - Sunday, March 5, 2017

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Ericka Bledsoe remembers having to travel to Fort Wayne when she was in high school to purchase a prom dress.

The cost was between $300 and $400 for one dress.

With prom being one of the more expensive activities for high school seniors, Bledsoe said she appreciates the community chipping in to help her 16-year-old daughter attend her first prom through donations made to the Fairy Godmother Project of Miami County.

“It takes a load off,” Bledsoe said of the event, which has provided free prom dresses to high school students for the last six years.

And this year, Bledsoe’s daughter, Keauna Allen was able to pick the perfect violet colored dress for prom.

The Fairy Godmother Project began as a senior community service project for one of Deborah Borse’s eldest daughters. The idea came when they were shopping for dresses at a boutique in Indianapolis. While trying on potential prom dresses, they realized that after prom was over the expensive dress would be left to hang in a closet.

That’s when Borse and her daughter decided to donate her dress and get other girls at North Miami High School to do the same.

“The idea was, why have a dress just hang in your closet when somebody could use a dress,” Borse said. “It’s (like) the Cinderella movie. She has a fairy godmother who helps her feel beautiful and confident and it works. The idea is everybody who volunteers and everyone who donates a dress can be someone’s fairy godmother”

Now students come each year to the Fairy Godmother Project event to pick out a new and gently used dress, or trade in their dress from the previous year. And the cycle continues.

In just six years, the Fairy Godmother effect has spread to areas outside of Miami County. Students from as far as Ohio and Michigan have come to find the perfect prom dress.

By 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, girls were lined up to get a ticket to pick out a dress. A total of 517 dresses had been donated for the event, including brand new gowns from local boutiques.

Groups of girls waited in the gym of the St. Charles School building in Peru for a chance to fall in love with the perfect dress.

As they waited, volunteers gave tutorials on how to achieve prom hairdos and makeup to complement their desired look.

Alyson and Bella Borse, Deborah Borse’s two youngest daughters, have carried on the tradition of their oldest siblings by continuing the Fairy Godmother Project.

While helping girls maneuver through 16 dressing rooms, and sprinting back and forth for different sizes and dresses that fit each girl’s imagination, Alyson and Bella said that they love volunteering each year for the project.

They also realize many girls their age would otherwise have to skip prom if it weren’t for the Fairy Godmother project.

“Because prom is such a big deal,” Alyson said. “I love that anyone is able to go because of this program.”

And when a girl finally picks her perfect dress, it makes the Borses realize how all of their work was worth it.

“It’s just really great to see them find that dress that makes them feel beautiful and confident, and just to see their faces light up when they know that this is perfect for them,” Bella said. “That’s just what makes it all really worthwhile for me.”

The Fairy Godmother Project has not only made many prom dreams come true, it has created a closer bond between the family that started the project so many years ago.

“It’s been a great opportunity for me to work with my daughters,” Deborah said. “My oldest daughter started it, she did it for two years. And my youngest daughter Bella, she’s now in her fourth year of doing it. So it’s a program that we run together, and it’s been a way for them to get involved in the community. and to teach them, and their friends about how to start a program, how to run a program and how to sustain a program.”

Donations are accepted for the Fairy Godmother Project year round at North Miami, Peru and Maconaquah high schools.

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, https://bit.ly/2lV0wl2 .

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com


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