In an effort to raise on-campus awareness of modern day slavery, The International Justice Mission hosted “A Pop-Up Shop to End Slavery” on Nov. 14 and 15 from 1 to 4 p.m.
The pop-up shop was held in Rudder Plaza, where the organization sold used clothing, with all proceeds directly funding a rescue mission for those trapped in slavery rings.
Previously, IJM has hosted a variety of awareness events, like fasting for 24 hours and purchasing meals based only on the amount of donations they earned in a given day. Chapter president and psychology senior Kathryn Seela said the organization is always looking for new students who want to get involved.
Given the commonality of child trafficking in the clothing industry, Seela said IJM wants to inform students to look past the brand label and look at the integrity and morality of the company. This includes shopping at thrift stores, as the funds do not go directly to unethical brands.
“We’re helping to raise awareness through this event as a reminder that we need to shop ethically,” Seela said. “That also includes shopping at confinement stores and thrift shops, just so that we don’t have to keep buying those brands that are using abusive measures.”
The funds raised from this week’s event will move IJM one step closer to funding a rescue mission for individuals caught in sex and labor trafficking. Seela said the cost of one mission can be as high as $6,300, but the money earned can save as many as 52 people. All proceeds earned from the pop-up shop will also provide for the protection and care of rescuees after they have been freed.
The members of IJM promoted the pop-up shop through social media campaigns and spread the word amongst friends and family. Seela said IJM members went through all of the donated clothes to make sure they were lightly used.
“Clothes not used will be given to different confinement shops around the College Station-Bryan area,” said Seela.
IJM vice president and international studies senior Jacob Williams said officers talked to A&M students about human trafficking and the importance of being aware of the topic at the event. This shop will not only inform students on the issue of trafficking, Williams said, but it will also shed light on the work being done to fight it, so they themselves can get involved in the war on human trafficking.
“Every person that purchases an item will be able to take home a tag that will have a story of a survivor that IJM has worked with in the past,” Williams said.
The majority of A&M students do not understand how widespread slavery is, Williams said, and IJM plans to change that by raising awareness at the pop-up shop.
“A lot of times students just think that we can’t make a really big impact in the world, but when we partner with people like this our voices and even our finances can go a very long way to make a big difference in the world,” Williams said. “We’re the next leaders and I believe that this is something all of us at A&M could learn from.”