With a daughter now in junior high, April MacDonald has attended quite a few school Christmas concerts.
During those annual events MacDonald said something has always stood out to her.
“It’s stuff you just kind of notice. That you pick up on,” she said. “You see the kids on stage without a dress.”
Now there could be many reasons why some girls don’t have a Christmas dress and MacDonald said those reasons don’t really matter.
What does is that kids don’t always understand why.
“They want to fit in, even just for a little bit, on stage and wear the pretty dresses.”
MacDonald’s birthday is in November and three years ago her birthday wish was to do something to help. She contacted C.C. Loughlin — her daughter’s former elementary school and the place where she had done some work with the breakfast program — to find out how many dresses would be needed to ensure that girls from Kindergarten to Grade 6 had a dress for their concert.
The answer was 10 and MacDonald knew she could find them. She enlisted help from some friends to gather up the dresses and dropped them off at the school where the girls were able to pick one out.
“And that was easy,” she said.
The next year the number of dresses rose to 15 and this year it is at 25.
So when she put out her annual message to friends this year she extended it beyond them through a public Facebook post.
“And the response has kind of been overwhelming.”
So much so that at the suggestion of her cousin, Nicole Lovell, she is now collecting dresses for girls in the whole Bay of Islands area.
She’s been calling the schools and they have been helpful in giving a roundabout number of dresses needed.
With the first Christmas concert of the season scheduled for Dec. 2, she and Lovell will be doing a dress pickup today.
They are looking for mostly Christmas dresses — black, red and green — in a variety of sizes.
“The great thing about Christmas dresses is that they always seem to have a band around it that you can make it into a bow, so sizing is easier.”
She said some ladies dresses that are kid friendly and in smaller sizes would be good for some of the older girls.
MacDonald is also planning to provide some dresses to Willow House and whatever dresses are left over will be kept for next year.
Now 39, she doesn’t worry about celebrating her birthday.
“They get better every year because I get to help more people every year.”
And she knows what she’s doing pays off, as she’s seen some of kids with the dresses on that she’s collected.
The feeling that gives her, she said is “amazing, absolutely amazing.”
Her daughter, Emma Waterman, helps with the dresses every year and while at C.C. Loughlin got to see how it helped some girls.
“And she gets that happiness feeling from it, too.”