Three Fairy Godmothers met with the Langley Secondary school district to plan the formal wear distribution. (left to right) Lizette Estebeth, Teresa Gentle, Natalie May. Courtesy Lizette Estebeth

UPDATE: Langley’s Fairy Godmother Foundation received ‘unbelievable’ amount of prom wear

Lizette Etsebeth’s Fairy Godmother Foundation collected approximately 450 dresses.

Lizette Etsebeth’s dream of becoming a ‘Fairy Godmother’ is finally coming true.

In 2017, Etsebeth launched the Fairy Godmother Foundation, a non-profit that collects formal wear to distribute to Grade 12s in Langley

“I wanted to give people the opportunity to attend [prom] without feeling inferior towards anyone else because they couldn’t afford an outfit,” said Etsebeth.

READ MORE: ‘Fairy Godmother’ needs help to make prom night special for Langley grads

But due to a lack of space, time, and volunteers, the organization was able to help just two Langley grads last June.

Now with the help of Aldergrove Community Secondary School providing storage space and more volunteers stepping up this year, Etsebeth’s vision of helping up to 50 grads in need is coming to fruition.

“To me, attending your grad, prom, is a rite of passage basically. It’s your reward for finishing high school and it’s an important milestone they all need to experience.”

After a callout for donations this past fall, Etsebeth’s organization received an “overwhelming response,” and is not collecting any more formal wear until further notice.

“We are no longer accepting donations of dresses but we will be accepting donations of new or gently used formal shoes for men and women. We will also accept gift cards to any shoe store.”

Right now, the group has collected approximately 300 long formal gowns, 150 short cocktail dresses, and many suits, shirts, accessories, and purses.

“The community response has been unbelievable to say the least. I am so humbled by the generosity of the communities we live in. Thank you for believing in our cause and contributing in so many different ways. It has certainly been a very humbling experience and I am overflowing with gratitude,” added Etsebeth.

Students in need will be selected and referred from their individual schools or counsellors to attend the first Fairy Godmother Gala Day on Mar. 10.

“If anyone is in need of anything for grad, they need to talk to their social worker, school counsellor or youth counsellor,” said Etsebeth.

Students who don’t feel comfortable talking to somebody can also email the Fairy Godmother Foundation with their needs. Etsebeth added referrals are completely confidential.

The cut-off day for referrals is Feb. 1.

The selected recipients will be invited to the gala where they can ‘shop’ for all their prom needs.

Personal shoppers will also be on hand to help the grads navigate through the racks to find the perfect outfit and accessories.

Etsebeth’s idea was inspired by Vancouver’s Cinderella Project, which also collects formal wear for high school graduates.

As a newcomer to Canada, Etsebeth struggled with putting her own daughters through high school.

“I put two girls through high school in Langley and I was new to the country,” said Etsebeth.

After moving to Langley from South Africa, Etsebeth said her and her husband were not making a lot of money and were shocked at the expenses of having a graduating student.

“It was both of us working and we had no idea how much it was going to cost. It was overwhelming.”

Etsebeth said expenses included grad events, tickets, professional photos and more.

“I just felt that I know how much it costs and I didn’t want anybody to feel like they don’t belong or they couldn’t attend such an important event just because of a little thing like money.”

Etsebeth is also looking for a sponsor for food on Gala Day to feed students and volunteers.

Those wanting to donate, or grads in need can email fairygodmotherfoundation@telus.net or visit the foundation on Facebook @fairygodmotherfoundationlangley

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