STLSpark collects donations during Dressember


Jude Thomas

During an Undefined improv show, freshman Mary (left) and junior Patty (right) Kirtley speak about Dressember. Unlike her usual winter wardrobe, Patty has taken on the challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days in December in support of Dressember. “I definitely felt self-conscious because before this month I didn’t feel comfortable in a dress. As the challenge has progressed, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it,” Kirtley said.

Annie Leath, Staff Reporter

Dressing up in December has a whole other meaning for Lafayette students. Dressember is a non-profit organization designed to help fight human trafficking, where participants wear dresses or dress wear for 31 days. The idea originated in 2018 from a sub-organization called STLSpark.

“Dressember is the bigger nonprofit that STLSpark is a sub-organization of. They raise money and awareness by wearing a dress every day of December to help aid the victims of human trafficking internationally and get them out of the situations,” junior and executive board member of STLSpark Patty Kirtley said.

 The sub-organization helps benefit Dressember  through donations collected at various activities hosted by the group throughout December. The group also has a social media page and has been using QR codes to get donations. 

“The proceeds we collect as STLSpark are donated directly to the Dressember foundation and these are used to help human trafficking intervention prevention and protecting people, like medical care, rescue interventions, therapy, and refugee support,” senior Riya Parikh, executive board member of STLSpark, said.

Parikh first learned about the group from her sister and has been a part of the team since her freshman year.

“My sister and a couple of her friends were participating in STLSpark. One of her friends founded it and I was like ‘Oh, that’s so cool,’ so I joined it. As I got more involved, I realized the importance of providing for human trafficking prevention, so then I was like ‘I should join this’ and ‘I should do this,’” Parikh said.

Like Parikh, Kirtley was inspired by her sister to step out of her comfort zone for her first year supporting the cause.

“I knew about [Dressember] because my sister started STLSpark [in December of 2018]. I was interested because I feel like it was a challenge I wasn’t comfortable with and so I knew I wanted to challenge myself to participate. I truly believe in the cause and it’s something not a lot of people know about,” Kirtley said.

By wearing a dress every day to school, Kirtley has brought awareness to others around her about the challenge and the overall message of the foundation.

“I definitely have had many people ask me why I’m wearing a dress every day, and so I feel like the fashion challenge does make an impact. Especially since I would have never worn a dress to school otherwise,” Kirtley said.

Even if people decide not to wear dresswear, there are many opportunities to help the foundation through donations of money and clothing.

“In [STLSpark’s] Linktree, we have a donation link if [people] want to donate money directly to the organization. We also hold several restaurant fundraisers, and we are planning on holding a pop or thrift store in January and all profits go to Dressember. So far we have [had] a merch fundraiser and an Oberweis fundraiser,” Parikh said.

STLSpark’s next fundraiser is a clothing drive throughout the month of January.

“People can collect gently used clothes over the holidays. With around 120 bags [of clothes, shoes, and linens], we can get around $500 to donate to Dressember,” Parikh said.