By Darren Lum
Finding that perfect formal ensemble for the upcoming graduation this year is closer than you think.
After eight years, the Make Dreams Come True initiative continues to be a service for anyone interested in acquiring everything from dress shoes, pants, dresses, shirts, suits and ties for no cost in Haliburton County.
It’s all a credit to the passion of its co-founder Jenn Abbott and the support of the community.
Abbott is proud about the longevity and has always believed in providing this service to anyone that needs and wants it.
“I like to get to be able to give back to the community and I think that helping kids, you know, in our community is a big thing. Especially, with how kids had a really hard time with COVID and I still kept my services open to kids that wanted an outfit, whether they needed one or not,” she said.
Abbott adds she’s helped some young people, who just needed a formal ensemble to look good for a social event of significance to them. This effort for the mother of four said the Make Dreams Come True service has value for the recipients, and giving back has its rewards.
“But it is nice to see the smiles on the kid’s faces when they come and pick up their outfit. It’s nice to get pictures of them and their outfits that you chose for them … so it warms your heart,” she said.
She’s been led to believe graduations will be held this year and is hopeful to help those students locally who would otherwise have to travel out of the community to purchase formal attire.
None of this effort would be possible without the support of the community she said.
This includes donations from residents, who have ensured there is a collection available to give people. Abbott said she welcomes donations, whether they are dress suits, dresses, formal shoes for men and women.
“I’m happy to take them off your hands,” she said.
Facilitating this service alone, she said, the condition of the donated clothing needs to be ready to wear.
Unlike other years before the pandemic when there was a location for pickup, she’s arranging pickups for those interested. People can get a bag of clothes, and then try everything on and see the clothing at home. Whatever isn’t wanted can be returned.
Anyone interested in receiving help are encouraged to contact Abbott by phone or through Facebook, which she prefers. She encourages requests be made sooner than later in the school year to ensure she can fulfill specific demands. Include details such as size, colour preferences, and photo examples, which depict ensembles or styles of clothing.
Photos to commemorate the occasion are possible, with the ongoing offer for a portrait session from local photographer Chantal Smith, who has provided her services since the Make Dreams Come True project started eight years ago.
Hundreds of people have been recipients of Make Dreams Come True and Abbott wants more to benefit. She said this service is for anyone interested in formal attire, which in some cases are brand new with the price tags on still.
She hopes after all the years that the public knows this service is open to everyone, regardless of economic need. It’s all about giving an opportunity to gain access to formal clothing in the community.
“I can’t change people’s minds. I mean, I just put it out there. You know, people that are on my site get to see [the dresses]. They don’t look like your hand-me-downs. They don’t look like they’ve been used,” she said.
Those interested can call Abbott at 705- 286-0906 or message her through Facebook at her personal account (www.facebook.com/jennifer.abbott.12) or Make Dreams Come True.