Canadians donate over 1,000 dresses for Fort McMurray grads

Beverly Proulx Bentley of Saskatoon is doing her part to ensure that Fort McMurray evacuees have attire for the prom. And if there are some items left over, they will benefit others.

Extra dresses will be donated to organization that gives formalwear to students who can't afford it

Beverly Proulx Bentley of Saskatoon has been accepting donations for evacuees in Fort McMurray who are in need of prom attire. She's collected over 50 prom dresses this week. (James Hopkin/CBC)

Beverly Proulx Bentley of Saskatoon is doing her part to ensure Fort McMurray evacuees have attire for their high school graduation.

"This is something that they want to remember for the rest of their life," Proulx Bentley said. "I wanted to be part of that, to give them the opportunity to feel good about themselves."

Proulx Bentley recently became involved with the Facebook group Fort McMurray Grad Donation. Within a week, she had accepted more than 50 donations of graduation dresses from across Saskatchewan.

Some arrived with handwritten notes attached, from previous owners.

Many of the donated prom dresses that Beverly Proulx Bentley has received came with handwritten notes from the previous owners. (James Hopkin/CBC)

"I hope this makes you feel like a princess," one note said. "Work it. Twirl it and have fun."

With more dresses on the way, she has had to stop accepting them. But she said that women's accessories and men's formal attire are still needed.

"Especially suits," Proulx Bentley said. "Because everybody rents them. They're hard to come by."

The prom attire will be picked up by Fort McMurray evacuees during an event May 29 in Leduc, Alta, south of Edmonton. The event will be hosted by the Fort McMurray Grad Donation group and its partner, the Prom Project, a program that brings dresses to those who may not be able to afford them.

Extras to the Prom Project

Any remaining prom attire will be donated to the Prom Project and other organizations that would benefit from the donations.

"It's basically going to be an open shop dress-fitting for students," said Tarin Whyte, administrator for the Fort McMurray Grad Donation Facebook page. "They can all come out and shop and pick out what they like and hopefully leave happy and excited."

Whyte said that, as of Saturday, over 1,000 dresses had been donated from across Canada. She said the response has been immediate and incredible.

"Within a couple of days, all of a sudden we're up to 2,000 members from all across Canada offering [donations]," she said. "We were just overwhelmed."

In Saskatoon, Bentley wonders how she'll fit all the dresses in her truck. She's heading to Alberta soon in order to drop off the clothing donations in person.

"We're all human beings," she said. "I think we we should all come together and help each other out."