Thunder Bay

'Who Gives A Frock?': Unique Thunder Bay fashion fundraiser supports Hospice Northwest

Fancy dresses and formal gowns will take centre stage for a unique fundraiser in Thunder Bay, Ont., on February 13. Melissa McClement, a fund development consultant in the northwestern Ontario city, organizes 'Who Gives A Frock?' every two years with proceeds going to Hospice Northwest

Fundraiser at Autohome Paints on Feb. 13 offers people chance to buy new, gently-used or vintage dresses

Melissa McClement (far left) is the organizer of 'Who Gives A Frock?' in Thunder Bay. Cherie Kok (left) is the executive of director of Hospice Northwest, the charity benefitting from this year's fashion fundraiser. David Jones (right) is the president of Autohome Paints, which is the city-based business hosting the event on Feb. 13. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Fancy dresses and formal gowns will take centre stage for a unique fundraiser in Thunder Bay, Ont., on February 13.

Melissa McClement, a fund development consultant in the northwestern Ontario city, organizes 'Who Gives A Frock?' every two years with proceeds going to a local charity.

Since 2012, the event has raised over $40,000 for the Children's Centre Foundation and the George Jeffrey Children's Foundation, while this year's recipient is Hospice Northwest.

'Dresses have stories'

The fashion evening gives people the chance to buy gently-used, vintage and even some new outfits, all of which have been donated.

"Dresses have stories," said McClement. "We had one woman who wore her dress to the Gemini Awards and she donated it to us. I had one woman, I had to go to her house, it came out of a box, she bought it on Fifth Avenue in New York, said she's been keeping it all these years.  The vintage fashion that we get is phenomenal. They're handing it over, but this dress has meant something to them, so we find that really special."

McClement "can't believe the number of dresses" organizers receive, noting that in 2018 more than 800 hundred dresses were donated.

'Unbelievable' brand name dresses donated

"We almost curate them and showcase the ones that we think are really amazing and we get all kinds of brand names –Joseph Ribkoff, Frank Lyman, Nine West, Michael Kors – it's unbelievable how gracious our community is in giving their dresses.

Several hundred dresses will be sold during the event and the rest "will go to production companies in town for costumes, other charities and one year we boxed up dresses and sent them to an Indigenous community for their graduation, so we make sure those dresses go on. It doesn't just end the night of 'Who Gives A Frock'."

The evening itself is designed to make attendees feel pampered and special, with little extras such as valet parking and ensuring each guest is met with "a sparkling beverage".

Autohome Paints, a Thunder Bay-based business with a long history of supporting charities geared to helping families and children, is hosting the event.

'Locally organized, locally supporte'

"It's locally organized, it's locally funded and it's locally supported," said president David Jones. "Our money stays within our community. It stays within the clientele we want it to stay in, which is children and families... basically through the life cycle of every resident of everybody, every resident in Thunder Bay."

Dress donations can be dropped off and/or the $50 tickets can be purchased at both Authome Paints and Hospice Northwest.

You can hear the whole interview with Melissa McClement on CBC's Up North program here.

A unique fundraiser in Thunder Bay allows women to purchase gently-used dresses with all the proceeds going to Hospice Northwest. The night of fashion and fun is the brainchild of Melissa McClement. The event will take place Feb. 13 at AutoHome Paints. 7:06