Unique fashion statements for free
|By Jennifer Hughey - Contributing Writer | March 8, 2018|
With March break just around the corner, graduation for many local students is fast approaching.
It also means it’s time for Make Dreams Come True organizers, Nancy Lowes and Jenn Abbott, to start pulling items from storage to set up their annual giveaway of formal attire. It’s their fourth year collecting donated dresses, pant suits, men’s attire, purses and jewellery for the annual event. This year it’s set for March 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their newly donated location, in the attic of Castle Antiques on Maple Avenue in Haliburton.
“I like to say dare to be different,” Lowes, an educational assistant at J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School, told The Highlander. It’s something she feels very strongly about after raising two kids of her own. While hanging up cocktail dresses and organizing mood lighting, she recalled going through the process of dress hunting and grad prep with her kids. “Graduation is exciting, and we all want to make a statement in what we wear,” she said.
“But you run the risk of having the same dress as someone else.” When Lowes posed the question of a dress giveaway on Facebook more than four years ago, nothing happened right away. It was Abbott who first reached out to Lowes stating she had a dress she could donate. After some discussion online, Abbott got on board, and the two began to seek donations through a mom-to-mom swap and buy Facebook group.
“After an hour of asking, we had numerous people messaging us about making donations,” Abbott said. Lowes said she got the idea after seeing another community do this sort of giveaway and thought there was a need in the Highlands. She was ecstatic when the donations came pouring in.
“We had everything in a storage unit until we found this place,” Abbott said, noting all their stock had to be transported to their new home, with the help of a few good Samaritans, Lowes joked. Lowes said the offer to use the space was from owners, the Schliefenbaums, as they enjoy helping out the community. Donations come from all over, Abbott said, and not just for formal wear. Clothing racks were donated by Bernstein’s, Country Pickin’s and Judy McDuff, and items for their swag bags were donated by Minden Pharmasave, Shoppers Drug Mart, Remedy Rx and Easton’s Valu-Mart.
They also have a raffle for students, with prizes donated by Wind in the Willows, Touch of Class, Spa in the Highlands and Perfect Prints – to name a few. “It’s not just about donating the time,” Abbott said, “it’s about seeing them in the dresses or suits. We love picking out items for them and watching them light up when they look in the mirror.” Lowes agrees, saying that even those who come with the students often suggest dresses for other students.
“Everybody dresses everybody,” she said, smiling. “Getting a previously worn dress, you create your own unique statement for free.” Abbott said they will also open every weekend in April from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will accept donations at Organic Times in Minden or Why Not Collect It in Haliburton, or call 705-455-3323 for more information.
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander.