Grad dresses and suits, at one point priced for hundreds of dollars, were up for grabs for free this weekend for those who needed them.
The Sherwood Park Elks partnered with the Castle Downs Family YMCA to host the free event on Friday and Saturday.
Lacia Iron, a Grade 12 student graduating this year, travelled from northern Saskatchewan to get a dress.
“They are really expensive,” Iron said. “You are only wearing it for an hour or a couple of hours.”
“(It’s) the first time I can feel girly,” Iron added as she laughed.
For Cardinal Collins Millwoods student Jessica, the event represented an opportunity to get a grad dress and have some fun while searching the clothing racks.
“I think this is really exciting,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to get something.”
Leonard Shain, a Sherwood Park Elks member, told CTV News Edmonton the organization started hosting the event in 2015 with 80 donated dresses.
They received more than 1,000 donations this year and expect to gift 100 suits and 200 dresses.
“We were hearing that there were some students not going to their graduation because they couldn’t afford the dress or suit, and they didn’t feel comfortable going to the event,” Shain said.
“We’ve had one student come in and said it was one less student loan she had to take by getting a dress donated to her,” he added. “It puts a smile on my face knowing that we are helping put a smile on someone else’s face.”
Karen Neff, Castle Downs Family YMCA manager, said participating in the volunteer-driven event is rewarding as it ensures the leaders of tomorrow receive a proper graduation.
“The confidence I see in some of the youth walking out of the facility with their phenomenal event attire has just been amazing,” she said.
For more information or to donate gently used grad wear, visit the Sherwood Park Elks’ Facebook page.
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