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Event offering free suits for youth

Craig Walsh, operations manager at the Oshawa Centre, Oshawa Councillor Rick Kerr and Const. Rui Ferreira of Durham Regional Police show off some of the free suits that will be available to young men for prom season through a new initiative called Suits for Youth. (Photo by Dave Flaherty)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The value of a sharp-looking suit cannot be overestimated, but it is a resource that not all can easily afford.

With this in mind, a collaborative effort is in motion to help local youths heading into prom season.

For the past four years, female officers from Durham Regional Police have run the annual Gowns For Girls event, which provides donated items to local girls for prom.

Oshawa Councillor Rick Kerr says Gowns for Girls has been a great success, but he wanted to do something to help young men and transgender youths in Oshawa.

“I thought we need to do something for the guys,” Kerr told The Oshawa Express.

Kerr got in contact with DRPS Const. Rui Ferreira, a former police foundations student of his at Durham College.

“Rui said why not call it Suits for Youth because then it’s gender neutral. If a female wants to take their partner to the prom and wear a suit, it’s no problem,” Kerr says.

Through Suits for Youth, students will be able to keep the clothing they receive after prom.

Kerr says having a quality suit or formal wear can give teens a “leg up on life success”.

The Oshawa Centre has come on board as well and will host the event.

Oshawa Centre operations manager Craig Walsh says it is a natural fit for them.

“We’ve got a lot of clothing stores here, and we see the kids out [during prom season],” Walsh says. “We also have the space to hold this event, it’s a good central location especially because we’re a hub on the transit system.”

Kerr says they are seeking donations of full suits, jackets, pants, belts, shoes, and ties.

Donations can be made at any Durham Regional Police Station or Oshawa Centre guest services.

“They can come in, we’ll get them measured up and fixed up with the clothing, and away they go with a smile on their face,” Kerr says.

As this is a brand new event, it will be kept specific to Oshawa students this year.

“We don’t want to be so big that we can’t accommodate everybody. If there’s a mood to get more officers and people involved, we’ll go bigger,” Kerr notes.

Suits for Youth takes place at the Oshawa Centre on Wednesday, April 18 and Thursday, April 19 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at underground parking entrance #9.

For more details, contact