A ballroom in a downtown Vancouver hotel was transformed into a massive formal boutique this weekend for 200 students in the Lower Mainland.

The Cinderella Project helps deserving students, who have overcome challenging life circumstances, graduate in style.

"As a community, we gather together to say, 'Well done. We admire your courage, we admire your perseverance, we admire your grit,'" said co-founder Heather MacKenzie.

"This is not a charity situation. This is a kind of thing where we are offering this as an achievement award, a recognition of awesomeness."

Lisa Huynh was a former participant who graduated 10 years ago.

She told CTV News she is grateful to the Cinderella Project for supporting her during a difficult time in her life; her mother was sick, causing her to miss some schooling and she didn't know if she'd be able to graduate.

"I was able to celebrate a big milestone in my life, which at one point in my life, I didn't think was possible," she said.

Huynh returned to the event, this time as one of the 650 volunteers.

"It's actually been on my bucket list for quite some time," she said. "I am hitting my 30s now, so I decided a great way to give back to the community."

Many of the gowns, shoes and accessories are donated by people in the community and from film sets, while Moores donated suits.

MacKenzie said the event is focused on making the youths feel cared for and special.

"A dress may come and go, but a memory and the way you make somebody feel, that never gets forgotten."

The Cinderella Project celebrates its 20th anniversary.