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Young Fairy Godmother Helps Underprivileged Get Prom Dresses of Their Dreams
Mitzvah Hero: Emma Halpin, 12, believes in fairy godmothers. The seventh-grader at Haverford Middle School has been involved for the last year with Fairy Godmothers, a nonprofit agency which makes new and donated prom dresses available for a nominal charge to those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford them. Emma has helped raise the profile of the group among her friends, collected gowns for the cause and organized sites where the donations could be dropped off, such as her family's synagogue, Main Line Reform Temple.
What It’s All About: When Emma went shopping for her Bat Mitzvah dress, her mother mentioned how lucky she and others were to be able to afford such dresses, which can soar into the hundreds of dollars. Emma, the daughter of Mike and Annie Halpin of Bryn Mawr, took that lesson to heart. She researched Fairy Godmothers, which she had heard about through a friend of her grandmother’s who works there.
"The more I read, the more I wanted to be a part in making girls’ dreams come true of being a ‘princess’ on their prom day," Emma recalled.
Two months ago, she went to a Fairy Godmothers Prom Fair at the Cheltenham Mall and was “shocked” — and delighted — to see so many girls walking away with a dream-come-true.
“The volunteers, tailors and dress gatherers are true examples of kavanah,” said Emma, using the Hebrew word to describe well-thought out intent behind performing a mitzvah.
Emma said working on behalf of Fairy Godmothers has taught her to re-examine why she does what she does, with the hope that the world will be bettered by her mitzvot.
“The importance of Fairy Godmothers is how the girl feels — invincible.”
Not a One-Time Thing: Emma also takes part in “Remember Us,” a project at her synagogue in which students preparing to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah “twin” with a young victim of the Holocaust who was killed before getting the chance to celebrate the rite of passage that Emma will go through next month.
Emma twinned with Emma Danilchenko “because I thought it would be cool to share my Bat Mitzvah with someone from Russia (my ancestors were, too) and who had the same name as me.”
The project “honors someone who had the right to become an adult Jew and never got to. So when I become a Bat Mitzvah, I will be lucky enough to fulfill Emma Danilchenko’s dream and goal, becoming a Jewish adult woman.”
Good for Her: “Doing a mitzvah will forever change you as a person for the better even if what you aspire to be is the furthest thing away from what you did," Emma said. “Take me for an example. I want to grow up to be a professional volleyball player or a doctor/vet and I collected dresses!”