School District 8 manager of human resource services Theresa Montpellier shows off one of the free dresses Grade 12 students can choose from Cinderella’s Closet. Parents Shannon Barnhart, Yvonne Vulcano, Karen Loewen and students Alicia Montpellier, Teigan Barnhart and Abby Jackson are among the volunteers who made the closet a reality. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: Step into Cinderella’s Closet

The confidential service offers free outfits to grads

Fairy godmothers don’t exist and glass slippers are murder on the ankles.

But students who can’t afford graduation outfits can access Cinderella’s Closet in Nelson, which offers free dresses, suits and shoes for those who can’t afford new clothes for graduation.

The service is run by parent and student volunteers and has operated for several years out of private homes, but this is the first year the district has provided a dedicated space. A former room used by teachers at South Nelson Elementary was converted into a decorated dressing area in March, complete with a mirrored stage and change rooms.

School District 8 manager of human resource services Theresa Montpellier is helping run the closet this year as a parent volunteer. Montpellier has two daughters, one of whom has already graduated and another who is finishing Grade 12 at L.V. Rogers this year, and knows firsthand how expensive grad outfits can be.

“Not everyone can afford those types of things,” said Montpellier. “So we wanted to make sure that each grad would be able to have would have that boutique type of experience.”

Grade 12 students across B.C. are having to do without traditional ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in Nelson, students will still have the opportunity to show off their style at the annual cavalcade through the city on Saturday.

That means there’s still a demand for clothing. Montpellier said more than 30 grads from schools across the district have tried on clothing since June 1.

“We had one student who just came in and fully fitted, like unbelievable, a suit that was just almost like it was made for him. So it was perfect.”

Over 100 donated dresses and plenty of shoes for girls are available, although boys’ suits and shoes are in short supply.

The closet operates on evenings and weekends, and when students find an outfit they can either donate it back once graduation is over or keep it.

“For males you’re probably going to use that suit for an interview down the road so it’s yours to keep. You can return it if you choose, completely up to you, not expecting to have it returned,” said Montpellier.

“And sometimes, as you know, girls are very sentimental to their dresses. So if they want to keep a dress, for whatever reason, completely up to them.”

The glass slippers, however, will have to be returned by midnight.

Related:

Virtual proms, online grad ceremonies: Teen milestones hit hard by COVID pandemic

Grad celebrations cancelled in School District 8

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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