Teens send grad dresses to Fort McMurray

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A group of young women in Manitoba hope to give the gift of a magical graduation to their peers in Fort McMurray, Alberta, one gorgeous grad dress at a time. Celeste Petrick, 18, who lives near Sarto, Man., got the idea while recently watching news stories of families in Alberta who had lost everything the wildfires. She felt awful for them, and her thoughts went to her own most prized possession.

“My dress is sitting in my closet collecting dust — might as well donate it,” she said.

“And if I’m donating my dress, there’s probably other girls who want to do the same thing.”

Petrick was right. As soon as she posted her intentions on Facebook with an offer to collect the dresses of others, she said it took off.

“Everybody just got to it, shared it, liked it… it just blew up,” she said. “It’s been almost four weeks straight where I’ve been getting emails and text messages.” All of them from other young women who want to help.

She and her two friends Julia Plett and Mia Prenovault have been driving around the province picking up beautiful dresses from recent graduates.

“Everyone just really wanted to help, like if that was my grad I would’ve been bawling,” said Plett, who says her dress which she’ll wear at her upcoming graduation cost $820.

“I just want somebody else to enjoy my dress. I’m never going to wear it again,” she said.

Jessica Friesen felt the same, and recently donated hers.

“All I wanted was to try and give a girl some kind of hope, where she’s not thinking about what she’s lost. Just make someone feel happy and beautiful,” she said.

So far, 112 other girls have donated their dresses.

“I had just the best night of my life in my dress. I just felt on top of the world, like I was a princess on my grad day. I wanted to share that with another girl. Especially that they had lost so much already — they deserve to be proud of themselves for their accomplishments,” Petrick added.

Dresses are photo ready

“They got them dry cleaned, all the jewelling is still on them, there’s no rips or tears,” said Petrick.

Steve’s Livestock Transport, a company in Steinbach, agreed to ship the dresses for free and another company is donating boxes for them to be transported in.

An organization called The Cinderella Project will distribute the dresses to the recipients from Calgary.

The chair of the Fort McMurray Public School Board says he’s grateful on behalf of the students.

“We’ve seen it in so many different ways, of how people express kindness and give our students and their families the sense that they care and want to help,” said Jeff Thompson.

“The generosity has just been amazing.”

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