Mia Poirier shows off one the stunning dresses available for $5 through the SOS Gradwear program.

Supporting teens’ big day in Parksville Qualicum Beach

SOS program allows grads to buy stunning outfits for $5

LISSA ALEXANDER

Special to The NEWS

Our community can and should support our youth, and one way we can do that is by ensuring they have something nice to wear on graduation day.

Those are the sentiments of SOS Gradwear volunteer Maeva Lowen, who will be altering donated gowns and tuxes for local grads and their dates in the coming months, relieving their worries about purchasing costly, unaffordable outfits.

“It’s a lot of money to put out for one night, and I would hate to see someone not go because they don’t have that money,” she said. “And plus it gets people repurposing beautiful clothing.”

The SOS Gradwear program provides gently used or new gowns, tuxes, suits, shoes and accessories for local grads and their dates for $5. The program is located at the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre in Parksville, where grads come for private shopping appointments; check out the selection and try on items that catch their eye.

Lowen has been sewing all her life. She has made wedding and other style dresses as well as costumes for the Bard to Broadway Theatre company. She said she’s excited to help fit stunning donated outfits on local teens, and help make their graduation special.

“I think it will be fun to help the grads and see them shine,” she said.

Erin Holmes has been doing alterations for the Gradwear program for a couple of years and said it’s rare that a grad will find an outfit that fits perfectly; so she alters gown bodices, length and waist sizes on men’s pants, she does simple size adjustments, as well as larger alterations like redesigning the back of a dress, among other adjustments.

“A fun one was a guy who wanted his tux pants to be Bermuda shorts,” she recalled with a laugh.

Holmes said she volunteers for the program because graduation is a big deal to youth.

“Everyone gets into grad and I think that it is really an important rite of passage,” she said, “and clearly there’s a need in the community because people come in.”

The SOS is gratefully accepting donations of gently used or new dresses, tuxes, suits, shoes and accessories for the program.

SOS Gradwear coordinator Margaret Shaver said SOS, with the help of the community, supports local teens in a variety of ways. The Gradwear program is another way that our community can help take care of our youth, she said.

Lowen agrees.

“This area has an older population and we should do everything we can to support youth in this area, they are the ones who will be supporting us one day.”

Teens can call 250-248-2093 ext 232 to book a shopping appointment. Visit the SOS Gradwear Facebook Page to see some of this year’s selection www.facebook.com/sosgradwear. Drop off donations to the program Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to the SOS Child, Youth & Family Centre at 245 West Hirst Ave. in Parksville. For more information on SOS visit www.sosd69.com.

— Lissa Alexander is the Marketing co-ordinator at SOS

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