Whitman Christian Fellowship Fundraises to Fight Sex Trafficking

Daniel Kim

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Instead of spending money on drinks this weekend, members of the Whitman Christian Fellowship (WCF) will be donating cash to help adolescent girls escape the sex trade.

Beta's recycled alcohol bottles are now being used as a medium for raising money. Photos by Catie Bergman.

Beta’s recycled alcohol bottles are now being used as a medium for raising money. Photos by Catie Bergman.

Members of the club have set a goal to raise $2,500 for a nonprofit organization called Speak Up for the Poor, which works to make it easier for adolescent girls to get out of the sex trade industry by providing them housing, education and access to legal advocates.

WCF members chose to support this organization after seeing Speak Up for the Poor advocate Dr. Gary VanderPol speak at a conference they attended from March 1 until March 3.

“We went to a Christian conference where we heard about the organization, and the overall theme of the conference was that money talks. We took it upon ourselves to raise money in order to help the organization. This specific organization reached out to us at the conference and they laid out their values and expressed their goals,” said senior WCF member Alejandro Fuentes Mena.

The club has taken a unique approach to reaching its goal. Along with tabling at Reid Campus Center during lunchtime, members have also stationed alcohol bottles and protein powder jugs in women’s fraternity sections and fraternity houses on campus.

“[We want to] help people understand that if we can spend a lot money on things that we don’t need, [that] are just for our own good and fun, why couldn’t we give a little bit of money to a worthy cause such as this?” Fuentes Mena said.

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The purpose of these jugs and bottles is not to put individuals in a guilty situation. Rather, it is a method of helping remind people that there are actions that they can take to help a cause. Club members hope that the fundraiser will change the ways in which students think about their spending money.

“The way I think about it is that I don’t think buying protein shakes or alcohol is categorically bad, but I think that we should be thinking how much we spend [with] respect to justice issues. The same goes for other stuff such as going to the movies or buying expensive juices when a lot of people don’t have clean water to drink,” said senior WCF member Stan Walmer.

Senior WCF member Laura Holford agrees.

“I think it’s more of a concerted effort to raise awareness and challenge our own paradigms about how we use money. The coin isn’t thousands of dollars, but if we set these habits of caring for thinking globally and acting locally, then hopefully we can cultivate that into our lives,” she said.

Students in WCF took their own pledges to set an example for other participants in the fundraiser.

“As Whitman Christian Fellowship, we all took on different pledges or challenges, challenging our conception of money and how we use it,” Holford said. “For example, some people are keeping a track record of all the money they use on entertainment, and taking the total and giv[ing] that amount to the organization. We have a small group of students on campus who study scripture together and we do things as a group.”

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Additionally, WCF members invited Speak Up for the Poor founder Troy Anderson to speak about the organization at Maxey Auditorium on April 22.

Club members hoped that the lecture and fundraiser gave students the chance to talk about injustice and to start steps toward fighting it.

“The truth is that $2,500 is probably not going to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. Firstly, it’s better than nothing, and secondly, it’s important for us to care anyway as college students, even if we don’t have a lot of resources. At least it gets the conversation started and causes us to think about the money we spend on ourselves,” said Holford.

Walmer and WCF members believe the fundraiser gives students the opportunity to put their theories into practice.

“I think that there is a disconnect for Whitties and the disconnect is in theoretical assent to fight injustices and actually doing it. I think actually doing something and not being frustrated by the terrible things in the world is done by taking small steps.”

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