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Free grad dresses, suits for students
A young couple from Penal is giving deserving secondary students across the country the chance to go out in style for their final days in school by offering free graduation dresses and suits on loan.
Karissa Collin and her husband Anjit Rennie Gopiesingh, who heads the Penal/Debe Community Organisation, said they were offering an opportunity to students who wanted to attend their graduation but could not because of the high cost of suits and dresses usually sold for the annual exercises at schools across the country.
They are hoping Good Samaritans will help them spread the love in a major way too.
Gopiesingh, who works as a contractor, said he came from a poor family and could not afford to go to his graduation exercise. His mother Kuntie worked as a market vendor and finding money to buy new clothes for his graduation night was not possible for him.
“Going to graduation prom is very expensive and many people like me ended up not going because we could not afford to buy a suit. I was telling Karissa this and she decided that we could help out and give people dresses and suits for their prom,” an excited Gopiesingh told the T&T Guardian of their endeavour.
Collin said she looked at recent prices of dresses and was amazed to see a basic graduation gown selling no cheaper than $1,000.
“I was fortunate that when I graduated my mother was able to buy a dress for me. I changed my dress four times. There were many people like my husband who could not afford to go and we want to help our deserving students so they can remember their prom night,” Collin said.
With this in mind Collin started the initiative and advertised it on Facebook. So far she has collected 30 dresses, some of which are brand new.
“We are also getting volunteers to do hair and make-up. We are hoping that people will continue to call if they need a makeover for graduation,” Collin said.
She said she hopes to continue the programme next year as well.
“Some designs are timeless. We want the widest variety for our students so they can look just as good as anyone else. Nobody has to know you got your dress for free. Some of my aunts and friends contributed dresses and random people called us. Some neighbours have also helped,” she said.
She also added that the Penal/Debe Community Organisation continually collects clothing for fire victims and will embark on a clothing drive soon.
Collin said their latest project has been well received by members of the public and several teachers have already called asking for assistance for some of their students. She said someone has also requested assistance in outfitting their entire class.
Gopiesingh, who uses his home at Mohess Road as a distribution centre, said he was thankful he was in a position to help.
“I worked hard to get out of poverty and we both try to help the less fortunate. We are teaching our children, Sophie, three and Nathaniel, six months, to help the less fortunate,” Gopiesingh said.
If you know someone who needs a dress or a suit for graduation or want to donate these items you can call Collin at 303-9152.
Those who are needy will benefit on a first come, first served basis, Collin said.
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