NEWS April 25th, 2014

By

Students pitch in to help with prom

A brother-and-sister team of high school students in Leaside is pitching in to help local charity New Circles in a clothing drive intended to help needy students have a memorable prom.

For the second year in a row, St. Michael’s College student Christian Rocca, 17, and his sister Alexa, 15, who attends Bishop Strachan School, have put up posters in their neighbourhood and solicited friends, family and residents in a bid to collect dresses, dress pants, dress shirts, accessories and shoes for the charity’s seventh annual Prom Boutique.

So far this year they’ve collected more than 300 items, many of them donations from clothing companies.

Vaso Dry Cleaning, at 225 McRae Dr., has also pitched in.

“Last year, because it was relatively new, people had closets full of clothes they hadn’t worn in a long time and were just giving up stuff,” said Christian, who says they learned about the drive from their mother last year. “We cleaned a lot of them out, so this year we had to find new alternatives.”

In addition to soliciting donations Christian, Alexa and their classmates volunteer to help the students who pick them up choose the clothing and match the accessories.

New Circles, which provides residents in need with clothing on a referral basis, helped 500 students last year and 700 in 2012, according to volunteer program manager Nita Saini.

New Circles founder Cindy Blakely attributes the drive’s success to the memories donors associate with their own proms. She said she was inspired to start it after seeing how new outfits could produce self-esteem in her teenage clients.

“I remember a young girl asking when she had to bring her dress back, and when we told her she didn’t have to she was absolutely thrilled,” Blakely related. “Three months later her mother came back and told us that her daughter put on the dress once a week, looked in the mirror and it was the only time in the week that she felt beautiful.”

This year the organization created seven donation drop-off zones. Included are its headquarters at 10 Gateway Blvd., the 290 Merton St. office of real estate agent Patrick Rocca, who is Alexa and Christian’s father, and Playnwear consignment clothing store at 3214 Yonge St.

The drive ends on April 24.