Project Fairy Godmother continues its magic
JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — Megan Landsaw and her mom are pretty close, but one bonding experience they both treasure came from the help of a fairy.
“It was crunch time for prom and so we were like, ‘Alright, we can do this,’ and it wasn’t too expensive. It was probably the easiest and cheapest option for prom,” said Joplin High School Senior Megan Landsaw.
For 15 years, Operation Fairy Godmother has been making the magic happen for Landsaw and others like her, providing affordable formal wear for juniors and seniors.
“Most formals are expensive, and just schooling in itself, and paying your bills and taking care of your needs…putting a lot extra towards a formal that you’re gonna see once is hard on a family sometimes,” said Landsaw’s mother, Renee.
It was that line of thinking that brought the program to life as the original fairy godmother, Debbie Leatherman, made it her mission to make prom possible for the kids she’s taught the past 36 years.
“I had a lot of girlfriends who had daughters and I said, ‘Oh, I know you have a dress or two at home. Bring them so I can get these to kids that would use them,’ and that’s how we started.”
Thousands of donations and happyily-ever-afters later, though, Leatherman is ready to transition into retirement, passing the baton on to new leadership.
“It’s way bigger than me. It’s way bigger than what I ever dreamed it would be, but it is what this community has supported. This is a community of giving people and they are not done.”
Knowing that this charity will continue is a relief to the Landsaw’s.
“That we were able to go somewhere reasonably and be able to say, ‘This is for you. This is for any teenage girl that comes in who has fears, or is overwhelmed. It’s a magical place. It lives up to its name,” said thankful mother Renee.
“It’s actually really cool that they do this because not a lot of kids can afford fancy dresses and the dresses they had there, well they make you feel like a princess basically is what they did there,” Megan said with a smile.
While no official transition has yet been made, Leatherman hopes that the new leadership will be able to find a more permanent facility.
All of the formal items are currently being housed in spare classrooms at Beacon School in Duenweg.
On Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., all junior and senior students from any school (with proof of student-status) are invited to shop for prom for $35.
The fee goes back into the charity, making sure every student receives the perfect outfit and accessories, even buying items outright if the student’s needs cannot be met with the group’s current supply.
No student is ever turned away; anyone that cannot afford the $35 fee is negotiated with on an individual basis.
The group also does hair and makeup for girls.
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