Belle of the Ball project helping local girls get formal ready

COVID-19 may have slowed them down, but nothing can stop Northlakes High School’s Leo Club from serving their community.

The youth driven leg of the Lions Clubs Australia movement, Leo stands for Leadership, Experience, Opportunity, and since forming last December, the Northlakes Leos have embraced that meaning by fostering goodwill through several charitable endeavours over the past 10 months.

Their work has seen then donate to various charities such as The Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Coast Shelter and Cows for Cambodia.

They’ve also supported a number of local community groups through fundraisers and donation drives with Charmhaven RFS, Coast Hands, The Iris Foundation and Share The Dignity, just some of the Central Coast organisations they’ve assisted this year.

And while it’s almost over, October has been another busy month for the LEOs.

The month started with their Spring Fashion Fair, where students sold a mix of preloved and new clothing and accessories to raise $611 for Camp Breakaway.

On the 25th the group held their first Bunnings BBQ fundraiser and sizzled their way to their most successful fundraiser to date, raising $1,300 to put towards a to be determined community project in San Remo and surrounds.

Currently underway is Belle of the Ball, a thrifty formal wear project to support high schoolers across the Coast.

The initiative was designed to ensure that girls from financially struggling families could access a formal dress for free, with the Leos collecting several new and second hand evening dresses kindly donated by the community.

The initiative has seen seven girls from Morisset to Woy Woy fitted out for their formal so far, with a number of dresses still available.

Lynda Elsley is Northlakes High School’s School Counsellor, Advisor to the Leo Club and its link to sponsor club, Gosford-Kanwal Lions.

She said Belle of the Ball was inspired by a similar project targeting rural communities.

“The Belle of the Ball initiative came to me last year when I saw something similar was being run in rural areas to provide girls in need with formal gowns.

“This made me remember that I still had my daughter’s gowns hanging in the cupboard at home from 18 years ago and I thought what a waste that parents spend hundreds of dollars on a dress and it gets worn once and then just sits in the cupboard.

“I had the idea around the time the Leos were formed and given that the school is in a low socio-economic area, I thought this would be a perfect project for the club,” Elsley explained.

With the pandemic putting additional financial pressure on local families, Elsley is now encouraging any families interested in Belle of the Ball to reach out.

“We still have approximately 40 dresses to use.

“They vary from brand new to second hand and range from sizes 6 to 20.

“This will be an ongoing project for the Leos and hopefully as more families get to know about this initiative, we will be able to help more girls have an amazing dress for their special night,” Elsley said.

Dilon Luke