Graduation and prom are quickly approaching for Durham high school students, and while it’s generally a time to celebrate, it can also be a financial burden.
But two Durham police programs, Gowns for Girls and Suits for Youth, are working to eliminate that stress.
Bobby Orr Public School grade 8 student Catrin Jones was on the hunt for her grad dress Wednesday and it didn’t take her long.
She’s also grateful it didn’t break her parents’ bank.
“You can see that they’re (the dresses) in amazing condition,” Jones said. “There were a bunch of names that I didn’t even know and I’m a really big girly girl. You get amazing clothes for free and not have to pay a hundred dollars.”
“When she found the dress she loved, it was perfect — perfect,” said Kristie Jones, Catrin’s mother.
Gowns for Girls has helped dress over 400 students for grad and prom this year. Det. Const. Joylene MacNiel with the Durham Regional Police Service, as well as Gowns for Girls organizer, says they also received a record number of donations, over 3,500 dresses.
“I never expected or anticipated this to be a what it has grown to, I’m certainly proud of the initiative,” said MacNiel.
WATCH: A local student and her friends have acquired many prom and grad dresses for those who can’t afford to buy one
Across the city at the Oshawa Centre, Keegan Gould was finding his suit for grade 8 grad with a little help from Suits for Youth.
“I was actually stressing, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to rent a suit or be able to get him one, so to find out about this program was very useful for me,” said Sarah Gould, Keegan’s mother.
Const. Rui Ferreira was making sure Keegan not only picked up the right tie, but that it was tied right.
“It’s really neat to see them going through the transition of walking in the door to when they leave the door with a suit, tie and accessories,” said Const. Rui Ferreira, Suits for Youth organizer.
Suits for Youth suited up almost double the number of students this year from last. While they have an array still in stock, the goal is to continue collecting year round giving more the opportunity to dress for success.
“Somebody’s got a job opportunity or a job interview coming up, they don’t have something to wear, that’s where Suits for Youth is here for them. They send us an email (email@example.com) we meet up with them at our space, get them suited up for success in relation to a job interview even if they’re not looking for prom or grad,” Ferreira said.