18-year-old Courtney Barich made one of the most memorable nights of her high school career even more unforgettable when she wore a dress made out of burlap to her senior prom. Barich, who attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Surrey, British Columbia, wore the glorified potato sack in order to raise money to build an orphanage in the Philippines. “I thought my dress should help people who are in need,” she said, “I decided I don't need to wear a fancy prom dress.”
The idea came to her last December, after she went shopping for a prom dress with her mother and found a beautiful one with a hefty $700 price tag. “We were driving in the car and I felt kind of selfish for how much it cost,” Barich confessed. “My mom said, ‘You would look good in anything, even a garbage bag or a potato sack.' And the idea kind of grew from there.” Instead of buying the gown, the selfless teen created a website called Courtney's Burlap Grad, where she posted, “I will give up the glitz and glam of a beautiful grad dress and I will wear a Burlap dress to grad instead, if I can get $10,000 in much needed donations to help this orphanage.” Her determination and passion were only made stronger when she went on a two-week mission to the Saint Martin de Porres Orphanage in Manila, where she was struck by how little the children had.
Barich teamed up with designer Suman Faulkner of Lata Design, who donated her time and skills to create a fitted burlap dress, complete with a stylish one-strap look, trendy cut-out back, and a winding trail of delicate flowers. Although the gown took two weeks to make because of the designer's allergies to burlap, the result is a stunning work of expert craftsmanship and fashion.
Although the high school senior didn't reach her fundraising goal by prom, she still wore the burlap dress to have a terrific night of fun with her friends and date, who wore a burlap vest and bow tie to match her. Thanks to an influx of donations after prom night, Barich finally raised over $10,000, but she will continue to accept donations on her website until September, when she'll return to the orphanage to do more volunteer work.