Suit up, move up

Published on July 19, 2014
Rick Campanelli

When most people think of charitable donations, they think food and money, not blazers and vests. But for a man in need, a suit can turn a life around, according to Moores’ suit drive.

The cross-country campaign is looking for donations of gently used suits and professional wear to help disadvantaged men get back in the workforce.

This year, Rick Campanelli, co-host of ET Canada, has partnered with Moores Clothing for Men to help promote the campaign.

“It’s a great help to these guys transitioning into the workplace who may not be able to afford a suit. Suits are pretty expensive these days,” said Campanelli, who was better known as “Rick the Temp” during his time at Much Music.

“For a guy who’s fallen on some hard times and looking to bounce back in a strong way, putting a suit on them, that’s a huge way that it will help in getting a job.”

Campanelli deeply believes in the confidence a suit can give a man.

“I never used to wear a suit. I used to work at Much Music and I used to wear shorts, jeans, hoodies, hats. But ever since I started working at ET Canada I was basically forced to wear a suit, because that’s the uniform of the job,” he said.

“It’s pretty indescribable. When you put a suit on, you just feel like you can accomplish anything. I can’t speak for other guys, but a nice suit, a nice tie, nice shoes and I kind of feel invincible. It’s like Superman putting his cape on.”

Moores’ hopes to receive 50,000 suits nationwide. The suits will go to 60 local organizations across Canada, one of which is the Single Parents Association of Newfoundland (SPAN).

SPAN has been a beneficiary of the program for the last several years; it usually receives around 100 to 125 suits each drive. Projects co-ordinator Elaine Balsom says that while professional attire is expensive, it is vital for single parents trying to make it in the workforce.

“If they’re going out into agencies and different businesses then they need to be appropriately dressed,” she said.

“Clothing is expensive, and not everyone has the ability to go out and purchase a wardrobe or business attire. If you have professional clothing and you want to donate it, you’re actually going to enable someone to use that and perhaps secure employment. It allows them to move on in their life and start a new path.”

However, Balsom stressed that formal clothing is not just necessary for the workforce.

“We’ve had people come in and need a suit for a wedding or a funeral,” she said.

“By providing these suits and other business wear, we’re removing some of the barriers that are stopping them from doing things that a lot of us take for granted.”

SPAN runs a clothing bank every two weeks, and Balsom says the number of people who take advantage of it is “unreal”— around 200-300 people per month.

The organization also offers an employment readiness program aimed at giving single parents the skills and knowledge they need to get back in the workforce.

“It enhances their self-esteem. It enhances their confidence. We have people who went through our program, and some of them are now executives of various companies throughout the city. We have crane operators. We have one lady who’s working with the town of Paradise, snowclearing. The success rate is so high and we’re so pleased.”

Donations of suits, shirts, jackets, pants, ties, belts, shoes, as well as women’s professional clothing can be dropped off at Moores’

St, John’s location, 41 Kelsey Drive, until July 31. After donating, customers receive 50 per cent off their next Moores’ purchase.

“Any gently used clothing that you’re not using anymore or (is) just sitting under your bed, we’ll take anything.” said Campanelli.

“Belts, ties, shoes, pocket squares. Any little thing that you see around your home that you’re not using and you think could be put towards helping someone out in life.

“I don’t think people realize how important the deed is that they’re doing. It could be very little. This is going to go to someone who could really use this article of clothing, so it’s an amazing thing.”