occupational therapy students in front of items that they collected

MCPHS Occupational Therapy Students Organize Successful Fundraiser for Refugees

occupational therapy students in front of items that they collected

A group of OT students led by Abigail McCaffrey, MSOT ’22, worked with the International Institute of New England to collect donations for refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

MCPHS occupational therapy (OT) students raised more than $1,000 in donations for Afghan refugees in a 10-day fundraising effort from October 18, 2021, to October 28, 2021. The donations came entirely from the MCPHS Community, namely students and faculty in the Manchester and Worcester OT programs. The OT students who organized the donation drive are members of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), an organization that currently has 40 members on the MCPHS Manchester campus. The SOTA mission statement pledges: “to enhance the knowledge of the profession of occupational therapy through professional, educational, community, and social activities. The organization will facilitate opportunities for camaraderie among occupational therapy students, as well as provide meaningful, productive interaction with faculty.”

SOTA President Lauren Horan, MSOT ’22, credits the success of the fundraiser to Vice President Abigail (Abbie) McCaffrey, MSOT ’22. Abbie says that they had been looking for community engagement opportunities since they formed their executive board in November 2020, but COVID-19 restrictions limited their options. With many COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, Abbie decided to pursue a collaboration with the International Institute of New England (IINE) when SOTA’s faculty advisor, Assistant Professor Angela Butler, MS, OTR/L, mentioned working with them in the past. According to Abbie, IINE serves people across several populations, including asylees, refugees, and immigrants. “They provide legal assistance for citizenship, help with housing, placing children in school, transportation, finding jobs, certifications for jobs, and so much more,” she says. When Abbie reached out to IINE, there happened to be an influx of Afghan refugees in need of support, so that is where SOTA decided to focus their efforts.

On November 10, Abbie and two other SOTA members delivered the donations to the IINE Manchester location. She says, “They were so grateful!” Although Abbie begins her clinical rotation in January, she passed on IINE’s contact information to her successors on the future SOTA executive board in the hope that they will continue the collaboration.