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Dressing to raise awareness

Krystle Wagner • Dec 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Despite temperatures hovering around freezing, a group of Spring Lake High School students and educators are continuing to wear dresses.

Throughout December, the group of about 25 are wearing dresses as part of the Dressember campaign, a nationwide effort that was started as a way to raise awareness about human trafficking and to raise funds for groups aimed at ending it. Males are also participating by wearing ties.

Within the first 11 days, the Spring Lake group has raised more than $740, more than double their $350 goal. They are now looking to raise $1,000 by the end of the month, SLHS senior Mia Davidson said.

Money raised will go to International Justice Mission, a global organization aimed at ending human trafficking, SLHS teacher Jennifer Boodt said.

Dressember founder Blythe Hill felt compelled to make a difference regarding human trafficking. She initially challenged herself to wear a dress every day in December. Over the years, Hill’s challenge and efforts gained momentum and has raised more than $5 million, according to the Dressember Foundation’s website.

The Spring Lake campaign is headed up by the student group Girl Up, which Davidson, 17, started during the 2017-18 school year. Since launching Girl Up last year, the group has hosted a 5K run in collaboration with the Grand Haven chapter and made about $1,300.

Although wearing a dress in Michigan’s December weather is among the last things Davidson wants to do at 6 a.m., she says the cause is worth it. She believes human trafficking is an issue people don’t realize is happening every day.

“Wearing a dress daily is a simple statement that can hopefully start a conversation among students, staff, friends and people in our community,” Boodt said. “It's an opening to talk about what human trafficking is and provide facts about this $150 billion industry.”

SLHS freshman Delainie Bullis said she’s been passionate for the past few years about learning about human trafficking and being an advocate so people know what’s happening. Bullis, 14, said it makes her happy seeing others joining the effort.

The Dressember campaign came as a suggestion after the school’s male staff members announced a No Shave November campaign, Boodt said. The men grew out their facial hair last month to raise money to support families for Thanksgiving.

By participating in Dressember, Boodt said she hopes students feel inspired and empowered to do something.

“We have the luxury of waking up every day to the opportunity of top-notch public education,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine that is not the case elsewhere. We get to make choices every day about what we want to support. There is so much power in youth and we are hearing them. This is another opportunity to use their voice or choice in clothing to make an impact, start a movement, and make something happen.”

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