Jackie Casey and Nicole Gagnon have been organizing Project Prom at the thirft store, but fear it may face extinction since most students like to go shopping in the city for new dresses. (Sarah Wegelin/Star Photo)

Thrift Store’s prom dress giveaway might be on final legs

Coordinators recognize kids want the experience of shopping in the city with friends and family

Project Prom faces its last year providing dresses to high school students planning to attend prom in June.

Once a month in January, February and March, St. Paul’s Thrift store opens in the evenings to give prom dresses away to high school students planning to attend prom.

The event, Project Prom, provides dresses to those who cannot afford a new dress, or are looking for unique in-town shopping.

Coordinators, Nicole Gagnon and Jackie Casey explain the event was well-received over the past two years, but due to a low turnout at the January and February events this year, they face canceling the third event in March and ending Project Prom in the community for good.

Gagnon, who collects the dresses for the event throughout the year, explains if there is no need in the community then that’s a good thing.

“If people don’t need it, great,” Gagnon said. “If there is [a need], we’re happy to have them and give them to people who need them.”

Coordinators explain they worry about students feeling embarrassed or stigmatized over wearing a used dress to the prom; but also recognize that for some planning to attend prom, part of the fun is the experience of shopping in the city for a dress with friends and family members.

“The event is hit and miss. Last year was our biggest year. We had 60 dresses,” Gagnon explains.

With limited opportunities to shop in the community and recognizing that not everyone can afford an expensive dress, Gagnon started the event in Golden.

She began collecting prom-like apparel, starting with emptying her own closet, and reached out to the community for support and received dresses of all shapes, sizes, sequence, and colours from community members. Some still with the tags on and were never worn.

With over 20 beautiful dresses hung at St. Paul’s Thrift Store without a home, Casey says, it’s a shame the events were not well attended.

The coordinators plan to give the dresses to local organizations that can use them, for example, the Golden Women’s Resource Centre for its Starlight Soiree and Lady Grey Elementary School for its high tea.

They say they will keep the dresses available at St. Paul’s Thrift Store for one more month, but do not intend to host another Project Prom event this year.

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