Article by  — If you need a formal gown for prom, or you have dresses gathering dust in a closet, consider the Sudbury Women’s Centre

Last year, the Sudbury Women’s Centre put a call out for donations of formal dresses to be handed out free of charge to the young ladies of Greater Sudbury for special occasions such as prom.

The agency received an overwhelming response, and a total of 135 dresses were donated.

Roughly 90 of those dresses are still up for grabs, and women’s centre staff recently took the sparkly frocks out of storage as they gear up for the prom season.

“Girls are looking for their dresses now for prom,” said Sudbury Women’s Centre executive director Giulia Carpenter. “They look very early.”

These aren’t cheap dresses either, but rather higher-end garments, some of them still with the tags on. There’s a variety of sizes and styles available.

“It was nice to see at the end of it the girls felt special,” Carpenter said, adding that oftentimes girls who can’t afford fancy dresses wonder if they should go to prom.

Thanks to the free dress program, “they actually went and had great time,” she said, adding that women’s centre volunteers also did the girls’ hair and makeup in some cases.

Although the Sudbury Women’s Centre still has plenty of dresses left from last year, Carpenter said the agency welcomes donations.

They’re also looking for donations of formal wear typically donned by men, such as suits and ties.

The agency also services the transgender community, and some clients prefer this style of clothing, Carpenter said.

She tells a touching story of a young trans girl who came into the Sudbury Women’s Centre last summer to pick out a formal dress for the Pride Prom, a yearly event for teens during Sudbury Pride.

The teen, who came into the women’s centre with her mother, cried when she found her dress, Carpenter said.

The Sudbury Women’s Centre also provides more everyday clothing items through its My Sister’s Closet program.

Donated women’s and children’s clothing is provided free of charge to clients, and for just $1 per item for those who are not clients.

“There’s a huge need,” she said. “Last year we gave out 32,000 pieces of clothing just from the closet.”

If you’d like to donate formal dresses or other clothing to the Sudbury Women’s Centre, or wish to check out what’s been donated, the agency is located at 324-F Elm St. West.

You’re asked to phone ahead (705-673-1916) to make an appointment if you’d like to try on the formal dresses.

The agency is also currently looking for donations of toiletries such as menstrual products, shampoo and conditioner.

The Sudbury Women’s Centre is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed 12-1 p.m.), Wednesdays from 1 to 8:30 p.m. (closed 5-6 p.m.), and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Some of the formal dresses still up for grabs in 2019 at the Sudbury Women’s Centre. (Heidi Ulrichsen/

Learn more about its programs on its website or Facebook page.