The Cinderella Gown Project began in Calgary in 2005 as a small project by several Sir Winston Churchill High School staff & Fashion students. The goal was to collect 20 to 30 previously loved and gently used graduation and formal dresses for students from different Calgary high schools that were not financially able to attend their graduation banquets. The first year over 100 Cinderellas were in attendance and the legacy began. Now the project invites over 325 Cinderellas each year with 50 high schools participating.
The students, teachers and several community volunteers were standing by to work on going through the donations to select appropriate and beautiful gowns. Local media attention made the Burns Foundation aware of the Cinderella Gown Project and they lent their support. They funded a series of ads in the Calgary Herald and Calgarians responded enthusiastically. The project grew rapidly beyond all expectations. CBC Television local and national, “A” Channel, Global, the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun all covered this project. Gown donations came pouring into Churchill and instead of the expected 20-30 gowns, more than 650 dresses were donated. When the collection was finished and dry-cleaning complete by Martinizing by Stephen Dry Cleaning, more than 400 usable gowns were ready for the 100 graduating students- Cinderellas that were invited.
Such a profound response changed the whole format of the project and a new facility had to be found to house the fittings. The Delta Bow Valley generously donated their main ballroom to run a whole day event. Dresses were showcased in half the ballroom and the other half was converted into dressing rooms. The House of Mirrors donated a portable three-way mirror and Walmart came on board as well with support. Super Drug Mart provided makeovers, jewelry and gift baskets making the inaugural day truly one to remember for the 100 young women that attended!
In 2006, the Palliser Hotel through the CP Women on Track joined the Cinderella Board and generously donated the Canadian Pacific Railway Pavilion and a number of volunteers to host the annual event. For three years running, the magnificent glass rotunda was cleverly disguised as a fashion paradise for well-deserving young ladies experiencing the shopping spree of a lifetime! This was the year that Albi Homes joined as a huge supporter both financially and in Board members and volunteers.
The Cinderella Gown Project keeps growing and serving the needs of an increasing number of Cinderellas that are referred to the project through their high school Counselors or school based Godmothers. The project runs a one day event in March each year that involves over 300 volunteer Godmothers during the event, 400 Godmothers throughout the year and hundreds of volunteer preparation hours.