They are part of an organization known as The Fairytale Project. The Fairytale Project is a nonprofit organization that currently serves the areas of Jefferson, Talladega, and Calhoun counties. Their mission is to use characters to bring smiles, joy, hope, and encouragement to children and adults that are facing difficult circumstances.
The Fairytale Project was created last October and is headed by Chassidy Casey, who plays Elsa. Jennifer Stone, an Oxford native playing Jasmine, has known Casey for several years. In the beginning, it was just Casey and Stone, but as the project evolved, they added more princesses. One of the princesses they added, Shayna Bussey of Oxford, plays the role of Cinderella. Now, they have expanded to include almost all the Disney princesses, but they also plan to include superhero characters.
The Fairytale Project began their journey by working with the Ronald McDonald House and by hosting “Princess Parties” where children could meet the princesses and take part in various activities. The Fairytale Project collaborates with many different groups and organizations and attends events such as proms for children and teenagers with special needs; they visit sick children and those in foster care, as well as children and adults with developmental disabilities.
The group of Oxford princesses appreciates the beauty and joy associated with working with the many groups and organizations they encounter. “When we first started working with these groups and these kids, I just assumed they would be more aware of their situation and let it affect them more, but it doesn’t. They don’t let it. These people have so much love and joy for everyone they meet, and it continues to bring tears to our eyes. When we are in ‘princess mode,’ we sometimes have to run away, so they don’t see us cry,” Bussey said. “They honestly help you keep a better outlook on your life.”
Currently, the largest event that the Fairytale Project has hosted was a carnival-style event held at the Michael Wedding Barn. The Fairytale Project partnered with Calhoun County DHR to host the event for foster children. “This event was one of Chassidy Casey’s first visions when she first wanted to create the organization. The entire community and surrounding areas came together to show their support and help any way they could. It was a great collaboration with all sorts of activities. Local businesses donated pizza, chicken, cotton candy, and popcorn, and there were superheroes and local firefighters mingling with the children,” Stone said. “It took a lot to get it off the ground, but everything was worth it when we saw the kids having the time of their lives.”
The Fairytale Project has done events and fundraisers in the City of Oxford with Rainbow Omega, and they hosted the “Beauty and the Beast” premiere weekend at the AmStar movie theater. “The event we had with Rainbow Omega was one of our traditional Princess Tea Parties,” Bussey said. Stone added, “We get a lot out of those types of events where we can sit down and enjoy every minute of the time spent with these great people.”
When the group did the Beauty and the Beast premiere weekend fundraiser, AmStar provided them with escorts, a red carpet, velvet ropes, and even provided the children they served that fell under their mission with admission, popcorn, and snacks, according to Stone.
“They went out of their way to help us fulfill our mission of bringing joy to children under difficult circumstances,” Stone said.
“They provided us free admission to the movie, and they roped off a special section where we could sit with the child we had been assigned. We also had a ‘meet and greet’ on the red carpet where we met children from all over Calhoun County.” Each child that was chosen to participate in the premiere weekend with The Fairytale Project had their own stories as to why they were chosen. One little girl in particular was chosen after losing her father in a motorcycle accident several years before, then recently losing her mother and big sister due to domestic violence. Despite every child’s tragic situation, they were all excited to be named “VIP Princesses” and to get their very own sash and crown.
With the many details going into each event, The Fairytale Project has found itself in need of more volunteers. “We love volunteers and need more volunteers to help us set up and break down parties and events. We have many girls messaging us, asking to be backup princesses, and we have started having everyone who applies begin their journey as volunteers. The Fairytale Project truly is a calling, and your heart has to be in it,” Stone said. “It is a lot more than simply being a princess.”
Stone and Bussey agree that one of their favorite things about being part of The Fairytale Project is knowing that they have a chance to give back to those in need and help them forget about everything, even if it is just for a moment.
“They are elated,” Stone says. One particular moment that stuck out to Stone and Bussey was when the aunt of a little girl going through treatments at Children’s Hospital began crying after one of their Princess Parties. When the girl talked to the princesses, she did not have to worry or think about everything going on with her. She could enjoy herself.
“When the aunt told us how much our presence meant for her and her niece, it completely reinforced why we do what we do, and why we all love this organization so much,” the girls said.
If you are interested in volunteering for The Fairytale Project, you can email Kayla Stovall at email@example.com
For information or questions about hosting an event or birthday party with The Fairytale Project, you can email Jennifer Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to learn more about the organization, you are invited to visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thefairytaleprojectorg