Prom dress donations accepted at the SPLASH Centre

Gowns, shoes and accessories to be available for those in need

Melissa Jenkins
Published on April 30, 2014
Amanda Mercer (left) and Michael Williams hang donated dresses at the SPLASH Centre in Harbour Grace. The centre is hosting a dress drive this week.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins

Shopping for a prom gown can be strenuous on the wallet, and not everyone can afford to pay the $800 price tag that can come along with purchasing a brand name gown.

Staff at the SPLASH Centre in Harbour Grace recognized not all female graduates would be able to afford a dress, and came up with a plan to help those in need.

It was decided they would host a dress drive, where anyone can donate dresses, shoes or accessories for those who may not be able to afford prom attire.

The drive began Feb. 1 and runs until tomorrow, May 1.

When The Compass visited the centre April 29, there were some 25 donated dresses of varying sizes, colours, lengths and styles.

The group has not received any shoes or accessories to date, but welcomes donations of any kind.


Target group

The centre has 170 registered members between 12 and 18, many of which are classified as at-risk youth. Some of these members are low-income, while others live in environments where alcohol and drugs have been an issue, or there has been criminal activity.

Not all those who attend fit in that category, but the centre is a safe place for all to come to socialize, use the facilities and take part in activities offered.

On average, between 30 and 40 youth from Victoria to Bay Roberts are in attendance on days the centre is open (Tuesday through Saturday).

SPLASH has a supper program that give all members in attendance a hot meal each evening.

Amanda Mercer, the acting executive director of the organization, told The Compass there are some that it is their only meal of the day.

“If parents are struggling to put supper on the table, they are definitely going to struggle with buying a grad dress,” she explained.

Members of the general public, junior high or high school, will have the opportunity sometime next week to check out the selection. A date has not been announced.

Anyone from the coverage area and beyond will have the opportunity to pick a dress, and anything else that may be donated, free of charge.

New beginning

The centre, located on Lady Lake Road, opened in 2001, but it won’t be the home of the organization for much longer.

The building, which is the former St. Paul’s School, will begin construction for an adult addictions treatment centre in the coming months.

Staff members have already began packing boxes to move to the new location, the former Harbour Grace Primary school on Route 70. But Mercer said the offered programs will remain the same, and she hopes a few more will become available.

Some of the programs offered at the centre are a summer day camp for children ages five to 11, the supper program, a fitness room and gymnasium for physical activity, the Changing Lanes program and many others.

Changing Lanes, which Mercer used to co-ordinate, gives youth at risk of criminal activity the opportunity to get involved in structured programs. At the end of the 15-week program, the youth volunteer for 20 hours at a business, giving them work experience for their resumes.

There is also a possibility that sports leagues may be created once the move is complete, including for ball hockey, which has been a popular request.

SPLASH has a bus that picks up youth after school and drops them off when the centre closes. This will remain in place after the move.

“A majority of (the youth) require transportation,” Mercer said.

Other prom dress donations

Meanwhile, the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPAN), Carbonear chapter is also accepting donations for prom dresses. The organization is calling its program Prom Dreams.

It is also open to the public.

Donations for SPAN can be dropped off to 27 Goff Ave. in Carbonear.