A past graduate holds up a Make Dreams Come True sign while wearing their dress and suit. /Photo by Chantel Smith

Fulfilling graduation dreams

By Vivian Collings

Jennifer Abbott has been helping make the dreams of graduates come true for the past 11 years.

Make Dreams Come True is a not-for-profit local organization that collects donated dresses or suits, shoes, jewelry, and other items to give back to grads free of charge.

This ensures graduates of any age can enjoy their special day without worrying about the cost. 

Last year, she helped 15 kids fulfill their prom and grad visions. 

“It’s really a community effort and is something that’s truly needed here because of rising prices,” Abbott said.

The idea came from one local woman receiving a donated dress 11 years ago.

“After that, we knew there was a greater need. We knew there would be so many more people benefiting from something like this,” she said. “I thought it was a fabulous idea.”

It began with a small storefront space in Castle Antiques in downtown Haliburton.

“But then COVID hit, so I keep all of the items in my home,” Abbott explained.

When someone is in need of a suit or dress, they message Abbott directly, and she gets to work.

“If they have a picture of the style and colour they’re looking for, I go through all my inventory, and then I will put together around five different options, and package it all up to send home with them. That way, they can try everything on in their own homes and decide,” Abbott said.

Whatever doesn’t get chosen gets brought back for someone else to enjoy in the future.

“Whenever I find out what colour and style they choose, that’s when I get to make up a gift bag. They get nail polish, makeup, jewelry, and shoes if they need them,” she said.

Over the years, Make Dreams come true has teamed up with local businesses who provide their services free of charge to those who receive a suit or dress.

“Salons donate time for hairstyles, cuts, and manicures or pedicures, and Chantel Smith gives the graduate and their family a free mini photo session.”

Abbott is now accepting donations for dresses, suits, shoes, and new makeup and hair products. 

She can be reached by phone or text at 705-286-0906 for the drop-off location.

If anything gets donated that she can’t use, she donates back to local organizations.

“We just want to capture the memories,” Abbott said. “It feels good to be able to help as many people as I can.”