Students collect prom dresses for foster and adopted girls

OT students collect prom dresses
Student Marta Parys (far right) donates two gently-used prom dresses to the Student Occupational Therapy Association. SOTA members (from left) Laura Cataldo, Alexandra Delayo and Karrin Walsh will donate the dresses to foster and adopted girls.

Jan. 27, 2014 - Prom season may be months away, but members of the Student Occupational Therapy Association already have dresses.

SOTA began collecting new and lightly used prom dresses as well as accessories and shoes outside the cafeteria on Quinnipiac's North Haven Campus on Jan. 22. About 30 dresses and two purses were donated in less than a week.

The student group will donate the items to the Connecticut Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents' "Avenue of Dreams" event on March 15, which will provide 150 foster and adopted girls with free dresses, shoes, makeup and accessories to make sure they are prom-ready.

"I am thrilled with the number of collections we have gotten over the past week,"  said Alexandra Delayo, a junior occupational therapy major and president of SOTA. "I think it is great that the Quinnipiac community came together to collect these dresses.  This drive is a great opportunity to give back to the community and give these teen-age girls a chance to get the same prom experience so many of us had in high school."

Delayo, of Cranford, N.J., and SOTA vice president Laura Cataldo said the association spread the word about the collection through emails and social media.

"It feels good to give back," said Cataldo, a junior occupational therapy major from Melrose, Mass. "I'm hoping other girls get to experience as much fun as I did in the same prom dress that I got to wear."

 Tracy Van Oss, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy, serves as SOTA's faculty advisor. It is the student group's first time collaborating with the Connecticut Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents.

"It is wonderful that the Quinnipiac community seeks opportunities to give back or pay it forward," Van Oss said. "We hope that the donation of prom dresses and accessories will send smiles to the deserving families."

Marta Parys, a first-year graduate student in the occupational therapy program, donated two gently-used dresses on Jan. 22.

"It's nice to be able to give back, especially something that I valued so much," the Oakland, N.Y. native said. "I wish I could give more."  

"We encourage our community members to develop a novel approach in supporting the foster- and adoptive-care community," said Kareemah Muhammad, outreach coordinator for CAFAP. "The students of Quinnipiac University are doing just that by ensuring that our foster and adopted girls statewide receive the prom dresses of their dreams and by having a true concern for their happiness and well-being."