Next to a jammed-packed storage locker overflowing with more than 400 dresses of every shape, size, and colour a smiling Carolyn Burgh, creator of The Graduate Wardrobe, begins pulling out rack upon rack of colourful dresses full of even more colourful tulle.
Inspired by time spent volunteering with a similar project, Burgh is hosting the fourth annual Fraser Valley Dress Sale on Sunday, Mar. 4, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., to raise money for The Graduate Wardrobe, which provides free prom attire to grads in need.
“I try to give everyone the same experience: I just want to everyone equal,” says Burgh. And a pretty dress and a good hairstyle can go a long way towards making that happen for many of this year’s grads.
Throughout the year, Burgh collects an array of dresses through donation, from bridal samples, and through her mentorship with the Cinderella Project, which she stores for this one-day event. The day of the Sale begins with a private shopping session for students referred by their teachers or school counsellors.
Once they’ve found the perfect dress, they’re able to have their hair and makeup done. “The volunteers I have will show them how to do it, so when they do have their grad ceremony they can do it from home,” says Burgh.
But none of that would be possible without the Fraser Valley Dress Sale, which helps fund The Graduate Wardrobe’s storage and overhead costs. And while this will be the fourth year Burgh has put on a dress sale, it’s only the second time she’s been able to host The Graduate Wardrobe.
“The first two years I just did the sale because I wanted to see if there was a market—if the students needed help out here—I had a lot of positive feedback so I started doing the actual event day,” explains Burgh.
Last year the Wardrobe was able to help dress 37 students from across the Valley, but the Cinderella Project is now hosting an event in Langley so the Wardrobe is focusing its efforts on helping students from Abbotsford eastward.
“I do Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope,” says Burgh. “I’d do Mission if they needed it.”
Located at the Chilliwack Masonic Hall, Burgh says she expects 200 or more people to attend the Dress Sale. And with most of the prices ranging from $10 to $40, the dresses are all a steal of a deal. ”We’ll also have some wedding dresses, and those will be from $50 to $100,” adds Burgh.
And although the event is mostly geared towards teen girls, Burgh hasn’t left out the boys, who make up 15 per cent of her referral base.
“Suits are more difficult to come by,” she says. “When I send out the referral, I send out a sizing chart. I have to buy a suit for each boy referred.”
If you would like to volunteer, make a donation, or are looking for more information about the Fraser Valley Dress Sale or The Graduate Wardrobe, please email email@example.com.