For some girls in Alberta, the dream of attending grad is a rite of passage their families can no longer afford.

"This year, the economy is especially low and I know several families that really can`t afford graduation for their kids, because the gowns are so expensive," Angela Pauls said in an interview on CBC's Edmonton AM radio show Tuesday.

"Nobody should feel like they can't participate just because of clothing."  

The Millet mother of three has launched a rental program giving underprivileged teens the chance to wear the dress of their dreams, for a fraction of the cost.

Pauls says the downturn has hit her hometown of Millet hard. Hundreds of people, including her husband, have lost their jobs and finances are tight.

"I actually have quite a few young girls that weren't going to go to their graduation ceremonies because they had nothing to wear," Pauls said. "And now they can go. I just think that's great."

Since she launched the program last month, donations have flooded in from across the province. And inside her home, each closet is now an explosion of organza, taffeta, crinolines and lace.

Pauls says she will only be charging $50 to $60 for each dress rental to cover the cost of dry cleaning.

Pauls will keep all of the donated gowns and rent them out again next year. She's also working to expand the program to include a selection of suits.

"When you look at graduation and what a big, significant event that is, everyone should feel positive," Pauls said. "It doesn't matter where you got your dress or your tux from, they should feel like they look the part."

Anyone in need of a dress, can contact Pauls for a one-on-one shopping session. She's already had dozens of calls from local teens, and a few have already found the perfect dress.

"It's been really positive. They've just been really grateful."