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Every Princess Needs a Gown

"I've learned a lot," Beaver says, about how to solicit donations and arrange the details. "It's a lot harder than it looks."

Beaver got the idea from a friend in Boston, who led a similar project there last year. With the help of her mom, Sabet Stroman, friend Elizabeth Schwieder and others from Deep Run High School and The Steward School, Beaver hopes to help 150 disadvantaged girls find their dream dress.

The easy part has been getting friends to contribute, especially bridesmaids' dresses. Local businesses have chipped in too. Notably, Karen Eagle boutique has donated 50 gowns. Still, many more are needed, Beaver says, particularly long dresses and those sizes 8 and up.

For the project, guidance counselors at high schools such as Armstrong, George Wythe, John Marshall, Huguenot, Highland Springs and Henrico were asked to identify senior girls in need and to encourage them to attend a boutique day April 10 at the Sacred Heart Center in South Side. There they will be able to try on and take home a dress — perhaps shoes and jewelry too — free.

For many families, the costs associated with sending teens to the prom is out of reach. Just getting gussied up can top $300. Beaver's Fairy Godmother Project provides an important resource, says John Marshall guidance counselor Pam Wilkerson.

John Marshall's "Drifting on a Memory" prom takes place May 27 at the Marriott. Wilkerson hopes the dress drive enables any girl who wants to attend. "All my girls are special princesses in their own way," she says. "They're beautiful young ladies making their debut — just with a little assistance."

Westhampton Cleaners and Shady Grove YMCA are accepting donations for the Fairy Godmother Project. For more information, call 254-2914. — Brandon Walters

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