Most 12-year-old Jewish girls fancy a new dress for each of the bar and bat mitzvahs she will be invited to.
And just about every mother panics at the thought of buying yet another frilly dress that will be worn once, maybe twice, during the party season.
With this in mind, Toronto mother Liana Lowenstein conceived of the idea of having children help other children by donating party dresses.
“Last fall, my daughter had six bat mitzvahs coming up, and we started to look around at dresses. I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I spoke to a few friends, hoping we could do a swap, but my daughter is smaller than a lot of her friends, so that wasn’t going to work. All the other mothers were in the same dilemma,” Lowenstein said.
A social worker in private practice and a clinical supervisor at Regesh Family & Child Services, Lowenstein was looking to organize an event to fund therapy for children.
She conceived the idea of collecting dresses and having a sale to serve both purposes.
A committee was formed with seven mothers and Lowenstein’s 12-year-old daughter, Jaime, and they put ads in school newsletters and cold-called friends.
“My daughter has been a very active participant every step of the way, helping me to promote and collect dresses by spreading the word to friends. It was important to me to involve Jaime so she could learn the importance of giving back to the community, because any dresses that we don’t sell we plan to donate to children in need,” Lowenstein said.
The dress campaign blossomed, fetching close to 200 dresses.
“We started off collecting dresses for bar and bat mitzvahs for 12- and 13-year-old girls, but we got… dresses donated in all different sizes, both for little girls and for teens,” Lowenstein said.
The committee decided to hold an event, and All Dressed: Children Helping Children, a spa night designed for mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and bubbies, will be held Feb. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Ortensia Salon, 3864 Bathurst St. in Toronto.
Guests can shop the wide selection of new and nearly new dresses at prices ranging from $10 to $50.
The event will include luxury spa treatments, kosher refreshments, tattoos, a photo booth, makeup application and great giveaways. Tickets are $25, which includes a luxury manicure or pedicure.
“If guests only want to come for the dress sale, then there is no admission fee. Tattoos, photo booth and makeup application will also be free.
“We are running a fabulous raffle to help raise money. Tickets are $5 per ticket or five for $20,” Lowenstein said.
All of the proceeds will support Regesh, a private, not-for-profit agency known for providing quality services to at-risk children, youth and families for over 30 years. As a charitable agency without any government funding, Regesh relies on fundraising and support from the community.
“Our event is a fun way to get a gorgeous dress for a great price, and I feel like I’m doing a mitzvah by helping to raise money so kids can get the help they need,” Jaime said.
Jaime is having her bat mitzvah in May and as part of her mitzvah project, she is participating in 13 acts of kindness.
“One of her 13 acts of kindness is going to be taking the unsold dresses to Just-a -Second Shop, which is operated by Jewish Family and Child,” Lowenstein said.
See the collection of dresses and raffle items here.
To donate a dress or buy a raffle ticket in advance, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The dress can be picked up in the Toronto area. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the event.