Make Dreams Come True continues to mark achievements
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 graduating, or high schoolers moving on to life after school or on to a post-secondary institution, the milestone is worth recognizing 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 something 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 public and re-distributes it to enable graduating students to find formal clothing (from head to toe) close to home and for free. This year picking clothing must be done remotely through online correspondence 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 donations in the past, she is discouraging donations now due to the risk of contracting 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 disease, colitis.
She recommends sending relevant information such as size and colour preferences, 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 people to be patient and to be open to compromise 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 highlight graduation.
Reid’s daughter, who will be graduating 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 ensemble 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 acquiring formal clothing easier. This helps parents 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 uncertainty 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 Haliburton 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.