Michelle Cherak with PLEA Community Services wants people to donate their gently used dresses and suits at one of the two dress drives being held in the community. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Glitz drive needs grad attire for SD42 students

Dress drives on Jan. 18 and Feb. 1

Every high school student dreams of graduation.

Yet, some are unable to afford the expense of marking the milestone in life.

Putting On The Glitz is an annual event that provides clothing and accessories for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows students to attend their high school graduation ceremonies.

Qualifying students get to choose a dress or suit to attend graduation along with all the accessories. They are also given a makeover and free graduation photographs, both cap and gown and formal.

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The grassroots initiative started in 2012 is organized by PLEA Community Services and also involves representatives from Ridge Meadows Community Service Agencies and local businesses.

Last year, around 50 students benefited from the program after getting a referral from their school counsellors or teachers.

Two dress drives will be taking place so people can drop off their gently-used donations.

Michele Cherak, with PLEA, said most in need are plus-sized dresses, but a selection of dresses in every size are sought to give students a choice.

Cherak said the campaign also needs women’s grad-appropriate shoes, clutch purses, men’s suits, men’s shoes, hair accessories, jewellery, ties, new dress socks for boys, and pocket squares.

READ MORE: Glitz put on for graduates

Cherak can’t believe how much the program has grown in size over the past eight years.

“We started off helping two or three kids the first year and now we’re up to 50,” said Cherak.

“Grad is very expensive and for a lot of our families it’s just not possible for the kids to be able to afford all that’s required,” adding that even graduation photos can cost hundreds of dollars.

Before Putting on the Glitz, local students used to be sent to the Cinderella program in Vancouver. But that can no longer support students from outside the city.

“I don’t know if in today’s economy people are struggling a bit more,” said Cherak.

The first dress drive will be taking place Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Haney Place Mall, 11900 Haney Place.

The second drive will be on Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 1 at ValleyFair Mall, 22709 Lougheed Highway.

Putting on the Glitz takes place March 4.

Anyone wishing to qualify in the school district can ask a teacher or school counsellor to send a referral to Cherak at PLEA Community Services.

• For more information, email mcherak@plea.bc.ca.


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