‘Cinderella Project’ has a new home

Weeks after the founder announces 'it's time' to dissolve the organization, Sarnia-Lambton Rebound steps up to take it on

Carrie McEachran, left, is executive director of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound. She is with Debbie Anderson, the founder of the Cinderella Story of Sarnia-Lambton.

Just a few weeks ago, Debbie Anderson sent out a note to her supporters.

For the last 10 years Anderson ran the Cinderella Story of Sarnia-Lambton, the kind of organization that is almost guaranteed to have you crying tears of joy when you hear examples—and there are many dozens—of teenaged girls who couldn’t afford a prom dress but got the chance to do just that through the help of others.

Sadly (for a moment at least), Anderson was letting go of the Cinderella Story and her email (on September 12) was the announcement of that move.

Thankfully, Carrie McEachran was one of those on a list of email recipients. As the executive director of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, McEachran took the idea of taking on this project, which was what Debbie Anderson was hoping for all along.

“It just seemed like a natural fit,” noted McEachran in talking about the process that included board approval and the decision to take on what is being called the Cinderella Project.

For her part, Anderson is delighted by the news, even though she regretted having to say goodbye.

“It was time,” she told Lambton Shield at a “handing over” that took place Monday night at the building on Christina Street where over 1,000 prom dresses are in storage, waiting for another group of graduating girls to see their dreams come true.

Now Katlyn Britton, who coordinates the Girls Mentoring Program at Rebound, will oversee the Cinderella Project.

One of the volunteers involved under the original program is Jacqueline Davidson, whose daughter, now in grade 11 at Great Lakes Secondary School, first encountered the “magic” that is the Cinderella Story when she was graduating from grade eight at Lansdowne Public School.

“We were in a pretty rough place financially,” recalls Davidson, whose husband was unemployed at the time. “There was just no money for a dress.”

That’s when the Cinderella Story came to the rescue, providing her daughter with an amazing opportunity to shine at her graduation.

In fact, Davidson was so impressed with the process that she became a “personal shopper,” the term used for the volunteer that guides a girl through the choice of dresses from among several hundred that are stored in the downtown space.

“I didn’t realize it at the time but I was the first parent volunteer,” notes Davidson, who eventually joined the board and hopes to continue being involved under the Rebound banner.

Another story comes from Debbie Anderson.

“One of the girls told me later that this was the last straw for her,” she says.

That girl, now a woman and a nurse at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, still sends Anderson a Christmas card every year.

Another part of the Cinderella Story is the organization receiving one of the Awesome Foundation’s $1,000 grants. The organization used the funds to purchase several “plus size” dresses that became part of future stories that will now continue to be written by those connected with Sarnia-Lambton Rebound.

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