Garage of Blessings, a Whidbey Island nonprofit that has been open since 2012, held a prom giveaway for local high schoolers on Saturday. The free items available included dresses, suits and shoes, and even purses and gloves.
“We probably had 500 to 600 dresses,” said Patty Folkestad, the administrative director at Garage of Blessings.
For the past couple of years, the prom giveaway was canceled due to COVID-19, so this year there was an abundance of items. The goal next year is to partner with local high schools themselves and bring prom attire directly to students.
This event is part of the larger Garage of Blessings mission – to provide goods to the public completely free of charge.
“We’re all volunteers here, nobody’s paid. Not one single person, not me, not a board,” Folkestad said. “So when we say labor of love, we mean labor of love.”
Twice a month, the group gives away toiletries – anything from toothpaste to laundry detergent to dish soap. Every Monday, there is a food pantry. The pantry doesn’t pre-package anything; people choose the food they wish to take so they don’t end up throwing anything away.
Everything the Garage of Blessings does is done in a way to prevent creating waste. If donated blankets are not deemed in good enough condition to give away, they are given to the WAIF animal shelter to be put in dog kennels. Any items they don’t want to put out on the floor or are seasonal are donated to the Big Blue Truck.
“It really needs to be stuff people can use,” Folkestad said. “And we test everything. We don’t put anything out on the floor that hasn’t been tested.”
Shoppers can rest assured that any electronic or appliance they take actually works.
In addition to the free items, Garage of Blessings has a small boutique where items are for sale.
“It helps us pay the rent,” Folkestad said.
Anything that cannot be sold is moved to the free area.
Shoppers are allowed one visit a day and can fill one shopping bag, along with five additional items.
“The majority of shoppers we get are seniors and moms,” Folkestad said.