Montreal collective distributes free prom dresses

“One of the scopes is reduce, reuse, recycle,” said Sharon Sweeney, project manager with the collective that puts together Notre-Prom-de-Grace, a pop-up shop that offers free prom dresses. Brittany Henriques reports.

“Every single kid that comes through the door is prioritized,” said Sharon Sweeney, project manager with Impact Collective, which puts on Notre-Prom-de-Grace.

Prom is special for so many teens as they celebrate the end of their high school career, but the lavish day can get expensive – many buy a dress to only wear once.

Volunteers from Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighbourhood are giving dresses a second life.

“The mission, I guess, is to get is really to get buy-in from youth at this age to not have any stigma behind, you know, reduce, reuse, recycle. You don’t need to even if you have the money, you don’t need to spend $400 on a dress,” said Sweeney.

It all started with one donated dress that Sharon Sweeney thought was too nice to tear apart for her art project at the time…
Now six years later – Notre-Prom-de-Grace is still standing strong – distributing free prom dresses and suits to whoever needs them.

Last year 250 dresses were distributed, but this year the collective has a bigger space and even more dresses with nearly 300 options to choose from.

“We don’t turn anybody away. We don’t turn anybody away based on any criteria because it’s environmentally friendly. There are more clothes on the planet than, than we could possibly use,” said Sweeney.

On May 13th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St Raymond’s Community Center, teens and their parents can choose an outfit for a special occasion with minor alterations available on-site

“We also want to attract those kids who aren’t the status quo, who won’t necessarily want to have an ‘au courent’ dress, you know, like they might want to have something a little bit different and then if we can help, if we can help a family, you know, like alleviate some of the financial stress, then, you know, we hit all the marks and we’re super happy,” said Sweeney.

Each student will get 3 coupons; 1 for a dress, 1 for a piece of jewelry and another for either shoes or a cocktail purse.

“When the kids come in, some of them, some of them can’t wait. Like when I get to work in the morning, there’s some some of them are there waiting. There’s a line up of kids waiting to come in,” said Sweeney.

Notre-Prom-de-Grace has a variety of dresses of all colours, style and sizes … and the volunteers say they guarantee a good time.

“We know the dresses, like there are babies. Like by the time the kids come in, we know the dresses so well. So we try to match them up,” said Sweeney.

“We play music, we have food, we have coffee, we have juice, we have a number of volunteers. Each volunteer takes each family. So some families might have two volunteers and they kind of walk them through the dresses,” said Sweeney.

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