DIDSBURY - The Gowns for Grads program organized and operated by the Didsbury Elks recently received a boost to its collection with the donation of dozens of gowns from the former Olds High School gowns program, says organizer Margo Ward.
The publicity director with Didsbury Elks, Ward explained that the Gowns for Grads program provides dresses, as well as suits, for graduates in the district and beyond.
The Didsbury program has been running since 2019 and currently has more than 300 gowns and about 100 suits in stock. The dresses and suits are stored and tried on in a large room in the Didsbury Elks Club Hall.
The clothing items are donated to the program from individuals and groups across the region and beyond and are given out to interested graduates free of charge, she said.
“We started our own program in Didsbury and when they (Olds High School) found out that we were doing it, then they gave us all of their clothing,” said Ward. “When we started our program we didn’t realize that they had been doing something out of the high school.
“When they found out about ours they said they would give us everything they’ve got. So we've moved their stuff to Didsbury.”
In order to accommodate requests for dresses and suits, the Didsbury program operates on an appointment basis, she said.
“It’s for graduates from anywhere who want to come,” she said. “We started doing it by appointment when we ran into the COVID situation and we’ve continue to do that because that way we have one person and they can bring their parent or their friend or both and they have total access to every item up there on their own. They can try on everything they want.”
The Didsbury program typically starts in January and runs until graduation in June, she said.
The Olds High School program recent donated about 100 dresses and some suits to the Didsbury Elks program.
“It was a much better fit for the Elks Club as they have a heated hall complete with lights and a changing space for young women and men to use if they come to ‘shop’,” said Olds High School family wellness worker Tane Skotheim.
“When we operated the program we did not have a space to keep the formal wear in so we had everything store in a storage container that did not have heat or lights. When someone wanted to ‘shop’ we had to try and open the container and take out whatever we had in their size.
“The Elks Club has been excellent at ensuring grads have access to some great options for formal wear at no costs.”
Any graduate wishing to access the Gowns for Grads program and to set up an appointment can call Ward at 403-556-5201.