SURREY - Help is on its way to the San Martin de Porres Orphanage in Manila as a student from Vancouver, British Columbia is about to reach her goal of raising $10,000 for the children of the orphanage.
No one ever thought that a gown made from potato sack could look good. But Courtney Barich wowed everyone when she showed up to her prom looking like a princess.
"Everyone is kind of like blown away. They thought it will be more like a potato sack kind of thing, so everyone was saying, 'oh you look beautiful', 'very nice dress', stuff like that. It's all lined with three different linings inside so it's very soft and silky," Barich said.
Like other graduating high school students, Barich went gown-hunting last year. But after seeing the $700 price tag and how that money can be better spent elsewhere, she had a change of heart.
"Courtney was just thinking about, you know she was talking about how much the dress costs and how she felt selfish, that kind of stuff. And I just said you would look good in anything," said her mother Charlotte Barich.
So Barich challenged herself and vowed to raise money instead for the San Martin de Porres Orphanage in Manila, a place she was able to visit on their school trip last year.
Instead of an expensive gown, she said she will wear the potato sack. A designer offered to create and design her gown. Total cost to Barich: $40
"She did it all for charity. So it's very nice of her to do that, to give me all that time. She spent a lot of time on it," she said.
To date, Barich has raised about $8,000. She will visit Manila again in September, to personally hand over the money to the orphanage.
"The money to go towards the shelter, for more rooms for it, and then when I was there, they were saying they want just more money for the food for the kids and then even maybe some money to help them fix some of the problems they have like for medical, and stuff like that," she said.
Community leaders in Surrey, BC asked Barich to be their Reyna Emperatriz at this year's Independence Day Santacruzan to show her their appreciation.
They are also appealing to other kababayans to help Barich reach her goal.
"I am a Filipino, I'm so touched. She's not Filipino. I feel that somebody, at least from our community should thank her for what she did. We will try to help her in little ways that we can to at least contribute to her cause, 'cause it's going to our "kababayans" anyway," said Filipino community leader, Narima dela Cruz.
With grad ball now over, Barich may auction off her now famous burlap gown and donate the proceeds to charity.