Centennial College is asking community members to open their closets for a charitable initiative that is also good for the environment.
The school’s Ecodepot event, which hosts its third cycle this week, offers students gently used clothing and accessories that are suitable for job interviews and the workplace. The items are available for free, donated by fellow students, faculty and support staff.
The not-for-profit program is a joint effort between the Progress Campus User Group and the Centennial College Student Association Inc. (CCSAI).
“The Ecodepot is meant to make recycling fashionable, at the same time as really being an added benefit to student life,” says Donna Neil, CCSAI services manager and Ecodepot organizer.
Launched in March, the event is a revamped version of a program the college started years ago but dropped due to a lack of resources and space. The update included making Ecodepot as much of a retail experience as possible. Shoppers can turn to volunteer “sales associates” such as Wendy Leung for help on looking professional and stylish.
“I’ll give the students suggestions about which clothes are better for them and help them to choose the right size,” says Leung.
Students also have access to free minor alterations and resumé checks, the latter thanks to the program’s partnership with the school’s co-op and job search centre.
Donations are welcomed year-round, and the Ecodepot sets aside two days every semester for students to pick out clothing. The next event takes place tomorrow and Thursday.
Neil says the program has received great feedback so far and donations for the upcoming event already number in the hundreds. Every donation helps meet the need that’s out there, she says.
“There’s an economic consideration whenever it comes to students ... I know that when it’s a choice between buying your books and buying a pair of pants for your interview or buying bus fare, you’re going to have to go with the necessity.”
The most in-demand items are men’s clothing, especially suits, says Neil. Any leftover items are put into storage or donated to the local Dressed for Success charity, which provides low-income women with professional attire and career development tools.
Environmental benefits aside, Neil is inspired by the impact Ecodepot can have on launching careers. She recalls a student from another Centennial campus who came racing into the centre at the end of the inaugural event’s final day seeking something for her interview the next day. “The fact that she was so happy because she got what she needed to feel confident and look good the next day — that to me says it all right there.”
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