Dress It Forward, a Fish Hoek-based charity, is playing fairy godmother to high school pupils who want to go to their matric balls but can’t afford to.
The dance lets matrics put studies and exam stress aside for one special night as they celebrate the drawing to an end of their school careers, but it can also be a kick in the gut for those who can’t compete with privileged peers who rock up at the ball in flashy luxury cars and dressed in designer clothes.
Sherri Bell and sisters Sarah Waries and Clair Titley decided to step in to help these modern-day Cinderellas. But instead of waving a magic wand and conjuring a carriage out of a pumpkin, they started Dress It Forward, which has been dish-
ing out matric-ball glitz and glam since 2017.
Matric is already stressful enough and the ball is meant to take the pressure off, not add to it, says Sherri, who works in Fish Hoek High School’s marketing, fund-raising and public relations department.
Dress It Forward started because of a conversation Sherri had with her friend, Sarah, about just how much money parents were spending on matric dances. Sarah had the same conversation with her sister, Clair, a documentary film-maker who lives in Boston, in America.
Clair ended up making a documentary on the subject in which she spoke to girls from Ocean View. She made a shocking discovery: parents who were already struggling to make ends meet were spend-
ing up to R7 000 to R8 000 on dresses
and other preparations for the matric dance.
“With the help of Clair’s former school mates in the UK, she managed to collect up to 40 dresses,” says Sherri.
The first handing out of dresses started at Fish Hoek High in 2017 through donations made by former pupils.
As word got out about the project, more dresses came in.
“We receive a range of designer dresses, some are expensive and some have never been worn,” says Sherri. ‘
Since April, Dress It Forward has donated 80 dresses to deserving girls.
They rarely receive suits, and if they do it’s usually two to three a year. But they hope to change that so they can also
help all the Prince Charmings out there who need a fairy godmother in their corner.
“We need suits as well because we would also like to focus on the boys,” says Sherri.
“I feel that it is important for all students to have moments to cherish of school in years to come.”
Nobody, she says, should miss their matric ball because of money.
Dress It Forward also works with beauty parlours that do the girls’ hair and make-up for free.
Pupils who need dresses can contact Dress It Forward on the organisation’s Facebook page or speak to their school’s marketing department. Pupils applying for dresses need to provide a report card and ID.
“Don’t stress, we’ve got a dress for you,” says Sherri.