Worn jackets, used handbags and colourful scarves line a cramped classroom surround a huddle of office administration students as they discuss their Dress For Success clothing drive on March 6.
It may sound a bit disorganized, but for the students involved, the so-far successful project is much more than a part of their curriculum. It’s a way to give back to their community and raise awareness for a charity that supports the success of women in the workforce.
In early January the office administration program began offering services like office organization in exchange for business clothing donations with a positive reaction from the community.
Accepted donations are organized at Algonquin by student volunteers in the office administration program.
By providing the free office administration duties, students get a practical element incorporated into their curriculum, while giving back to the community through the Dress For Success charity that provides women the clothing and resources to prepare them for the workforce.
“Dress For Success isn’t just for the clothing,” said office administration student Catherine Martin. “It’s really amazing to me.”
Any unused donations are sorted and sent to similar goodwill clothing stores like Value Village, including men’s business apparel, which is given to a similar organization to Dress For Success that benefits men entering the workforce.
Office administration student Nicole Devlin said the experience has helped the students of the program develop their practical experience and build confidence in approaching people in a business environment.
Devlin and others have created marketing materials, thank-you gifts and spoken with local businesses to offer their services in exchange for donations.
The response has been enthusiastic, but students hope to improve on the practical elements of the clothing drive.
“This year is either going to be a really big year or really small,” said professor Angela Lyrette in an interview with the Times. “Either way there are things we’re hoping to build on for next year.”
Though the group have run into storage space issues and difficulty with businesses following through with donations, the clothing drive has still been widely successful with the group considering ideas like a Dress For Success showcases for next year.
The event will run until March 31 with a focus on getting business attire donations. Faculty and staff are encouraged to donate any gently worn clothing and accessories to benefit the Dress For Success program.
“I couldn’t ask for a nicer, smarter group of students to work with,” said Lyrette. “It doesn’t even feel like work with the total leadership this group of volunteers has.”