Suits and Smiles: Adopt-A-Grad Foundation working to make lasting memories for local graduates

Story by Josie Randall

Spring 2024

It all started when a single mother reached out to Mike Reist and asked if he had a suit her son could borrow for graduation.

At that time, Reist didn’t wear suits and definitely didn’t have anything to fit a young man. He turned to fellow dads in the community and successfully raised $500, giving the young man two brand new suits.

Creating Lasting Memories

More than 5 years later Mike and Lori Reist officially set up the Adopt-A-Grad Foundation of Canada after years of helping grads. The foundation helps graduating youth through two avenues; an annual formal wear event where graduates shop for ceremony attire for free and a program that works with schools to sponsor students in financial need.

“It broke my heart to see so many students in our community who worked so hard to graduate and not be able to celebrate fully,” says Executive Director Lori Reist.

“We wanted to create a safe and inclusive place for young adults to come and pick out something just for them at no cost. It’s really about creating lasting memories. We also wanted to be able to help them pay outstanding school fees, get banquet tickets for their family, afford alterations or a haircut.”

The Foundation’s most recent formal wear event at the end of February saw close to 40 graduates who all left with something ready to wear. This year, the event also held a special time slot for LGBTQ+ students to come and browse the collection.

The plan is to host a second round of the formal wear event in March due to the interest they received from graduates and families this year.

A Wide Selection

Reist has also partnered with several local businesses in Airdrie including formal wear and barbershops and dry cleaners to support graduates.

“I will take anything, we do not eliminate anything unless it has damage that cannot be repaired. We have no limits on dates, or length,” says Reist.

“Young people are so creative these days. They’re open to wearing short dresses, or perhaps something their parents would have worn. We have things that are brand new and things that are super retro – there’s something for everyone’s style.”

For more information on the next formal wear event or to donate visit