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Enchantment Project aims to give grads in need dresses and more

High school graduation is often fraught with anxiety - and concerns are not always about marks. Dozens of Tri-City high school students approaching this important milestone are wondering how they can afford to get gussied up for their big day.

High school graduation is often fraught with anxiety - and concerns are not always about marks.

Dozens of Tri-City high school students approaching this important milestone are wondering how they can afford to get gussied up for their big day.

While some families can afford tuxes, elaborate gowns and limousines, other families struggle to pay rent and buy food. For them, the grad dance and all its costly rituals are an unaffordable luxury.

Enter the Enchantment Project, an initiative by Tri-City service agencies and School District 43 to provide high school graduates facing financial difficulties with formal attire so they can attend their grads with pride and confidence.

The project started two years ago and has so far outfitted 50 boys and girls; another 50 to 70 referrals are expected for 2012. To help these young men and women begin the rest of their lives on the proper footing, a local business is hosting a special event tomorrow (Thursday) to raise funds and collect gowns.

Tami King, owner of K&C Precious Metals in Port Moody, has partnered with the Enchantment Project to ensure local businesses supporting the grad program get recognition while also raising much-needed funds.

"It was a perfect fit," said King, who was looking for a non-profit agency to support. She used to work for PLEA Community Services Society of BC which works with vulnerable youth and is one of the agencies involved with Enchantment.

Now that she's a stay-at-home mom working in the precious metals business, King said she was happy to work once again with her old employer on the fundraiser.

The event will also showcase many of the businesses that will be part of Enchantment this year, King said, noting, "My hope is to generate them business."

There will also be live entertainment and King will be purchasing scrap gold and silver. She plans to give partial proceeds from the business she does that night to the Enchantment Project.

All the fundraising and work will lead up to a big night in March when the Enchantment Project will hold One Enchanted Evening in the grand hall at Port Moody's Heritage Woods secondary school for select Tri-City grad students. The grads will get to select a gown, shoes, a purse and accessories, get their hair and make-up done and their photos taken by a professional photographer. They will enjoy music, a chocolate fountain and appetizers throughout the evening. A seamstress will also be on hand to do alterations.

Attendees will leave with a gift bag as well as a certificate for hair styling on the night of their respective grads.

Boys are not invited to participate in One Enchanted Evening but referrals are accepted for them as well and funds are provided so they can afford a rental tux for their graduation night.

Meanwhile, the Soroptimist International of the Tri-Cities is also collecting cocktail outfits, gowns, shawls, purses and jewelry for the evening. To help out, email [email protected].

The event on Feb. 9 is open to the community and the $5 entrance fee will go to the Enchantment Project. Guests are also encouraged to bring formal wear and costume jewelry and make-up for donations. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Canoe Club, 501 Klahanie Dr., Port Moody.

[email protected]

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