By Darren Lum
COVID-19 has changed the way we live but this doesn’t mean it has to diminish the achievement of graduates whether it’s for Grade 8 students grad uating or high schoolers moving on to life after school or on to a post-secondary institution the milestone is worth recog nizing in a special way said Jenn Abbott of Make Dreams Come True.
“I’m trying to spread the word of what we’re doing to kind of give the kids some thing to look forward to so they can get dressed up and feel good about their accomplishments really” she said.
In its sixth year Make Dreams Come True continues albeit a little differently amidst the pandemic.
It is a community effort which takes formal clothing donations from the pub lic and re-distributes it to enable grad uating students to find formal cloth ing (from head to toe) close to home and for free. This year picking clothing must be done remotely through online corre spondence and while photo sessions are being offered it must be coordinated for safety with photographer Chantel Smith who was there at the beginning of Make Dreams Come True. This is open to any Grade 8 graduates or high school students graduating for as long as there is a need.
Although Abbott has welcomed dona tions in the past she is discouraging donations now due to the risk of contract ing the coronavirus.
The mother of a 19-year-old 10-year- old four-year-old and a 13-month-old has not left her house since March 14 to ensure the safety of her children but also herself as she has an autoimmune dis ease colitis.
She recommends sending relevant information such as size and colour pref erences including photos of ensembles or articles of clothing graduates want to give her an idea where to begin her search.
“Keep in mind everything is in boxes and bins in my basement. So it takes me a while to go through everything” she said. Once an ensemble or article of clothing is chosen and pick-up time is confirmed it will be left in a bag outside her home.
Abbott said she will do her best to fulfill the demands of graduates but wants peo ple to be patient and to be open to com promise to avoid disappointment.
Mothers such as Beverley-Anne Reid and Serena Kelly raved about Make Dreams Come True and were thankful to Abbott for her efforts in enabling their children to receive formal attire to high light graduation.
Reid’s daughter who will be gradu ating from Grade 8 was having trouble finding a dress online.
Through Facebook and testimonials of friends who had benefited from Make Dreams Come True the Reids learned of the opportunity to get outfitted locally.
All it took was her daughter to see the strapless peachy/pink floor length dress with rhinestones to know it was the one.
“It just caught my daughter’s eye and she’s like ‘That’s the one.’” she said.
Along with the dress there was a bag of make-up and jewelery also included.
Abbott is still searching for a pair of shoes for the Grade 8 graduate.
Reid said she wants to give back to Abbott’s efforts and will be donating clothing once it is safe to do so.
Kelly said her son who is graduating Grade 8 received an entire formal ensem ble for her son. She said this included dress pants shirt jacket and shoes.
“It helps families and makes every child feel special as some families need the help like this with the pandemic going on and [how] no one can get out and shop” she wrote.
Abbott said Make Dreams Come True isn’t about charity or giving away old clothing.
It’s about making the process of acquir ing formal clothing easier. This helps par ents and enables all graduates to have the same opportunity to dress up to mark an academic achievement that only happens once in a person’s lifetime which is even more important during this time of uncer tainty when everyone needs a little help.
She said “We’re all in it together until after the virus.”
Learn more about Make Dreams Come True on Facebook which has posted images of clothing or on the Halibur ton Buy and Sell on Facebook. Message Abbott or contact by phone at 705-455- 3323 to co-ordinate getting a graduating ensemble for yourself or if you know of a graduate in need.