You can make grad dreams come true for Tri-City high school students

Students in need in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody get help with dresses, makeup, tuxes and grad dance tickets so they can attend their grad dance in style

School District 43’s class of 2020 has a few months to go before school ends but for many teens, grad planning is well underway.

Girls are buying fancy evening dresses, boys are getting fitted for tuxes and suits, couples are pairing up and parents are organizing limos and after-grad parties.

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It’s all part of a tradition that goes back generations, a sort of debutant ball for young men and women with the added buzz of post-secondary applications and grad getaways.

But not everyone has the resources to pay for a graduation dance, and for some Grade 12s, the end-of-year soirée is not possible.

They would love to go but can’t afford dresses, tuxes, tickets and other necessities needed to arrive at the prom in style along with their classmates.

But there are options as school youth workers can connect them with the Enchantment Project, a program that provides good, gently used dresses for girls, tux rentals for boys and free grad dance tickets if they also volunteer at their school.

“The kids work hard to graduate. Everybody else gets to wear the gown or suit,” said Enchantment Project committee member Shari O’Neill. “They have been working hard to graduate and they want to make that [prom day] great,” 

A program that got started 12 years ago, the Enchantment Project has been helping 40 to 50 SD43 students each year get ready for grad.

On a recent visit with its committee, The Tri-City News witnessed the work of the volunteers who are collecting grad dresses, making sure they are in good shape, and raising funds for the program.

The gowns come in a variety of styles, sizes and colours that could appeal to girls looking for the right dress.

But more dresses are needed and the group is holding a fundraiser Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 5 to 8 p.m.at Burrard Public House, 2414 St. Johns St., Port Moody. Tickets are $25; in addition to food and a drink, participants will have a chance to participate in a 50/50 draw, a wine raffle and door prizes, with proceeds going to the Enchantment Project.

Currently, the group is accepting bottles of wine for the wine raffle, which can be dropped off at Coquitlam Florist, 104-2020 Oxford Connector, Port Coquitlam.

Also, gently used and dry-cleaned grad gowns, cocktail dresses and women’s evening wear (no older than four years) are being collected and can be dropped off at all SD43 high schools until March 6, according to O’Neill, who said the girls will pick out their dresses March 12.

Boys, meanwhile, can have their formal wear rentals paid for with funds raised at the Enchantment fundraiser.

O’Neill said the students are appreciative and their confidence grows when they know they look great.

“They find that dress and they get all decked out, it’s a dream come true,” O’Neill said.

• For more information about the Enchantment Project and the upcoming fundraiser, visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/613153342795085/.

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