Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trick or Treat!

This post is like Halloween, full of goodies. I have pictures, newspaper articles and messages from parents who attended the Cinderella Event with their daughters. I have to admit to some hording, thinking that I have a virtual vault of blog posts with all this material, but truth is I'm having a hard time finding time to unlock the vault :) So I'm going back to my original analogy and dumping all the goodies into the trick-or-treat bag. (that way the vault is empty and I don't feel guilty! - there is method to my madness)

First of all I want to share a wonderful article that appeared in the Oakville Beaver a few days before our event. Kara is on the right, I am on the left. (I'm not sure why we both look like we have double chins - cause we don't - really).

Next, I've created another slide show with pictures that Sandy Middleton provided (Sandy was one of our jewelry managers - note all the pictures of the beautiful jewelry that was donated!).

Finally I've saved the best for last - it's kind of like digging into that trick-or treat bag and finding one more Kit Kat bar (or in this case TWO because there are two very special notes to share!!) Last week a friend dropped off the Letters to the Editor page from The Toronto Sun. I've been meaning to scan it and post it to our site, but I'm glad I never got around to it because yesterday a friend forwarded this email to me (which was forwarded to her from someone else......you get the idea....)

Subject: Cinderella Story - success...

Just read this letter in today's paper! Sounds like this Cinderella Story was a success based on this thank you note?! Brings to mind that these acts of kindness not only help and impress the girl who receives the outfit, but their entire family...No doubt understanding how meaningful this is, these folks who received the gift will 'pass it (the attitude) forward' when they have the opportunity...   Ann


Last week, my daughter brought home a notice from school about an event called "A Cinderella Story," where young girls who could not necessarily afford a dress could find something to wear for their upcoming grads. My daughter is in Grade 8 and I was wondering how to afford the cost of a new dress, etc., with all the other day to day expenses already weighing me down. This notice was welcome news. On arrival and as we got to the front of the line, I was advised the dresses were not just reduced in cost, but were free. Not only that, but each young lady had a personal shopper to help her find the right dress, and they were also able to get shoes, a purse, some jewelry, a wrap/shawl and some make-up as well, all free. My daughter was overwhelmed, as was I, by the generosity of the donors of these items, and the time and effort involved by all those volunteers who made it possible. I want to thank everyone involved in this endeavour and all the people involved in "Random Acts of Kindness". It is comforting to know that in times of financial hardship, there are people and companies so willing to give. My daughter is ecstatic about the outfit she chose and I am grateful beyond words.

Andrew Jackson Brampton

THANKS ANDREW! We really appreciate that you took the time to acknowledge how the event touched you and your daughter. She looked like a princess!!

THANKS ANNE for that insight - that is EXACTLY our hope!!

Then today I received this note, also forwarded to me.........Trick-or-Treat. (You'll have to come back to see this note, I'm waiting for the individual's permission before posting it)

Permission granted:

My daughter and I recently attended your dress giveaway for girls who needed prom or graduation dresses. After spending an absolutely delightful afternoon finding a dress, we enjoyed watching the pleasure on other girls faces as they left with their treasures. The dress my daughter found was exactly what she wanted but was a little too small but I felt someone could alter it. My mother in law has never been very close to our family for a variety of reason but she a whiz with a needle and thread. The joy on my childs face as the dress was transformed into perfect fit is priceless. However the ultimate prize was the fact that my daughter asked her grandmother to alter the dress and has showed such thankfullness that the relationship with my husbands mother has permantly changed for the better. Not bad for one little dress that cost so little but has had huge rewards.
Thank you for organizing this event and please know the dress will be return to you next year along with half a dozen others looking for a new home.

WOW - THANK-YOU for sharing the story of your family's healing. Kindness is always the first step to peace!

Kara and I know from our volunteers how moved they were by the experience, but I really hope that letters and notes such as these affirm the power of kindness to change lives and build community!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Well we finally have some pictures to share. In fact now I have a ton, which means I'll actually have to get myself organized and create some albums. These pictures are from Lisa Charters, Kara's sister. Lisa was the manager of our registration and check-in. (she is also the SVP Director Digital at Random House of Canada Limited !! visit her at www.randomhouse.ca and www.Booklounge.ca)

I am thrilled that these are the first pictures I received because, coincidentally, they are of the beginning of the day, before the 'shopping' even began. There are lots of pictures of our volunteers, each station team, and even Kara and I. Kara is in yellow and I am in peach. (we were thinking dakbands when we coordinated our outfits!)

So the day began like this:

All our volunteers arrived between 8:00 and 8:30 am (yikes!). We provided lots of fresh coffee and yummy breakfast snacks to make up for the early hour. At 8:45 we began our Team Meeting where Kara and I (pictures of us on stage) outlined the day, introduced our Station Managers and then assigned everyone to a station. Then basically from 9:00 to 11:30 each group was responsible for organizing and displaying all their merchandise (we gave them carte blanche). It was a ton of work, but our volunteers and team managers were so awesome that it all went of without a hitch. By the time the first 'shoppers' appeared at 11:30 we were ready. At noon, we had pizza brought for volunteers and moved all our snacks and treats to a private lounge where volunteers could go throughout the afternoon for a break and something to eat.

Shopping was from noon until 4:00 pm, but we finished early. (It was a first come, first serve event, so most shoppers were there right at the stroke of twelve!). From 4:00 until 5:30 we packed up, swept up and generally shared stories of how wonderful each and every young lady looked as their outfits came together. "Did you see the girl in the beautiful brown gown, she looked like a princess!", or, " Oh, did you see the girl in the red strapless number? Amazing!!".......everyone had a favourite, and at the same time, they were ALL favourites.

Enjoy the pictures....more to come tomorrow.....

(P.S. Sorry for all the 're-posts' the pictures in the slideshow keep flipping once it posts!!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fairy Tale Ending

I can't believe it's over. I feel a little like Cinderella after the clock struck midnight. Although something spectacular happened, it feels like a dream because today life is just the same as it ever was. Except, perhaps, for the 75 young ladies that waltzed away bejeweled, and with the perfect prom dress, shoes, and purse slung over their arms. I hope the excitement has bubbled over, been shared and relived with friends and family.

Every day this week, I'll share a story about the event. We have tons of photos thanks to our wonderful volunteer photographer Toni Jamieson who spent the entire day with us despite being days overdue with baby number two! It may take a couple of days before we can sort through all the photos....but I promise to post lots.

I've trying to wrap words around the stories and emotions of the day, without success. Then I realized that the best way to describe how wonderful it was is to share with you a sample of the emails I received today from volunteers:

Elaine, I was so proud to be a part of your event on Saturday. I have told everyone I know that next year they have to be involved. To see those girls transform brought tears to my eyes. It is people like you who make a difference in this world. It is appreciated. Bless you for your kindness. Happy Belated Mothers Day. Just contact me when you  need help again. Take care.

I just wanted to thank you once again for allowing me to participate in such a worthwhile event and to congratulate both you and your assistants on organizing and orchestrating such a successful outcome. I was truly honoured to be part of this very special day which made such a difference in the lives of so many young women.

We had sixty (yes, six-zero!) volunteers show up at eight in the morning, until six in the evening. And they emailed me to THANK ME for allowing them to give up their entire Saturday. What more can I say?

Kara and I want every volunteer to know how much they were appreciated and needed. And we want to give some special recognition to the Managers we assigned to each station because without them, we simply could not have pulled this off!!

Please take some time to check these talented people out.....

Jayne Millette of Mainstream Clothiers in Oakville may be a pixie in size but she is a Goliath in terms of fashion and organization!

Rhonda Cook, helped manage the personal shoppers, despite being in my 'bad books' for crippling me in her weight and muscle toning class earlier in the week. She is the BEST Zumba instructor ever, check out some of her videos.

Sandy Middleton, artist, photographer, jewelry designer extraordinaire helped manage our jewelry department, and you can visit her here.

Cathy Schroeder co-managed the jewelry department. And you have to visit her website to see how talented this woman is!!

Stephanie Hawke, owner of Cocoon in Grimsby managed our shoe department.

Bari Atkinson managed our Check-Out and donated coffee and tea. Yeah Bari!!

We also had lots of help and support from our families. Kara's sisters Julie and Lisa managed the Cafe and the Welcome desk, while her dad, Rapid Ray Charters provided transportation for some girls and their families. My dad also provided transportation and was our U Haul driver.

Tomorrow I'll give you the low-down of how the day was organized, and I promise to include some pictures:)

OOPS, I forgot to share that we invited the Mothers to shop too - seeing as it was the day before Mother's Day and all!! more about that later......

Friday, May 1, 2009


I love words. I love the meaning of words, understanding their origins, development, metamorphosis and cultural nuances. I love words because I am passionate about communication and community. Words influence people, words frighten or inspire, words tell stories and words reflect our thought processes.

Today's word is generosity. It is a beautiful word. Over the past few weeks my colleague Kara and I have been smothered by the generosity of friends and complete strangers. So much so that I felt compelled to discover it's origin and meaning. It comes from the word, bounty, which meant 'goodness' in old french and Latin. We have been smothered by the 'goodness' in people, their willingness to contribute and enrich the community in which we all live. The bounty that allows us to share and deepens our sensibilities, making us all richer.

A week tomorrow (May 9) we will host A Cinderella Story. Young girls in grades 8 and 12, who, for one reason or another, are not in a position that enables them to celebrate their graduations due to the expense, will be invited to shop for their dresses and accessories for free. I do not have the total number of dresses we've collected because the donations are still pouring in, but it certainly looks like we will reach, if not exceed our goal of 1000 gowns - due to the generosity of community.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting regularly to keep you up to date with the stories, pictures and kindness that is making this event such a success.

Here are a few photos of the bounty we have been blessed with: