SOS Staff member Hollie Francis shows off one of many new and gently used dresses that local grads can get for $5 at SOS. The program is available to all local grads by appointment. Call 250-248-2093 ext. 232.

Cloaking Parksville Qualicum Beach grads in class

Society of Organized Services program gives grads an opportunity to dress their best for the ceremonies

  • Apr. 21, 2015 8:00 p.m.

LISSA ALEXANDER

Marketing Coordinator

Society of Organized Services

Many a glamorous and fanciful dress are highly revered during  an important life event, and then are cast to the depths of our closets, rarely given the chance to show their glory again.

The Society of Organized Services (SOS) Grad Wear program aims to change that.

For years the program has been bedecking high school grads and their dates with new and gently used outfits, along with accessories and shoes, all for $5.

SOS Grad Wear Volunteer Debbie Mitchell said the program is a great way to recycle beautiful clothing and also give teenagers the chance to try on a variety of colours and styles to see what suits them best.

“Grad is one of a few times in your life where you’ll have the opportunity to dress in a stunning gown or tux. This is a fun, no-pressure process,” she said.

Mitchell said graduation comes with a host of pressures: emotional, financial and peer. She said she feels the program can alleviate some of that stress. The Grad Wear program has been fortunate to receive a number of brand new dresses from a shop in Courtenay, and the majority of the remaining dresses have only been worn once.

The occasional dress has needed minor repair work which has been done by a volunteer seamstress.

Mitchell said it’s very rewarding to see young girls happy and excited about their finds, and one girl wanted to pay more than $5 because she felt guilty for getting such a good deal. But it’s a win-win situation, Mitchell said.

Those that donate their dresses can feel good knowing someone else will get to enjoy it as they did, and the recipient gets a gown without having to stress about the costs to her and her family.

Although the program continues to successfully suit up young gentlemen in dapper outfits, the program could use some more donations of small and medium-sized tuxes and suits, Mitchell said.

“Because many men rent their tuxes we don’t get many donated to the program,” she said.

For women, the program is stocked with the shorter-style date dresses as well as long gowns. But SOS gratefully accepts donations of dresses for the program throughout the year, and especially in these months leading up to graduation. The program also accepts gently used shoes and accessories.

Mitchell said she and her fellow Grad Wear volunteer Trish Marrion recognise that choosing an outfit for graduation can be a big decision.

She encourages grads to book an appointment and bring someone along whose opinion they value, along with an open mind.

And for those grads that have benefitted from the program, please endorse the program through social media, or by sharing the Facebook page (Facebook.com/SOSgradwear) and spread the word.

The SOS Grad Wear Program is not located at the SOS Thrift Shop. Instead, all the outfits are located in a room at the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre in Parksville, and grads need to call to make an appointment.

Once there, they can try on numerous outfits in privacy. To book an appointment or to make a donation to the program, please call the SOS at 250-248-2093 ext. 232. For more information on the SOS visit www.sosd69.com.

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