Across the globe, an estimated 40 million people are enslaved, according to the International Justice Mission, yet much of the public remains unaware of modern slavery. The organization and its collegiate chapters are working to raise awareness about this issue. The goal of its members is to eliminate all forms of slavery within their lifetime. Two leaders of the IJM chapter at MU described what this effort looks like here on campus. During the week of Nov. 4, IJM sponsored its first annual Justice Week. The schedule consisted of a few events aimed at promoting the organization’s mission and working to grow its membership. On Nov. 4, IJM partnered with Chipotle for a profit share, bringing in $150 to send to its global headquarters. The week concluded Saturday evening with a Global Night of Prayer and bonfire.
“The whole point of all of this is to spread awareness on Mizzou’s campus, to inform people about what’s happening in a way that’s accessible and not in your face, and at the same time helping the national organization,” Alyssa Shikles, vice president of communications of the MU chapter, said.
While these events are new to campus, the week was built around one event that has been previously hosted by the organization.
“Threads is a pop-up thrift store,” Shikles said. “We’ve been doing it for a while … at least a few years. Now other campuses around the nation are doing Threads as well.”
The sale’s history of success as a fundraiser for the group did not stop this year. Set up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday on the sidewalk in front of the MU Student Center, the racks and tables grabbed the attention of students and faculty as they walked by. Junior Mak Penny made time in her schedule to check out the sale.
“There’s a lot of really nice stuff here and everything is really affordable so I appreciate that,” Penny said.
While cheap and trendy clothes may have been the initial selling point for shoppers, hearing about the purpose of IJM made them stick around.
“Events like this pop-up stuff definitely raise awareness because it starts a conversation, and that’s where a lot of things can be stopped by having a conversation,” Penny said.
For Cassidy Fox, vice president of events of the MU chapter, these kinds of light-hearted events are one way to make a difficult topic easier to discuss publicly. Her position in the group helps her support a cause she is passionate about.
“Everyone deserves to be free,” Fox said. “That’s not a partisan issue, that’s not a religious issue. Every single person, I think, can agree that freedom … is instilled in humans.”
Composed entirely of student donations, the pop-up store offered a variety of items for sale. Shoppers sifted through both men and women’s clothes, shoes and accessories, from activewear to business casual styles. Local artists also lent their talents to IJM to help with the cause. Handmade earrings from Dory Pearlstone and Columbia-themed prints created by Tori Aerni were for sale at Threads.
“It’s more than just a clothing sale,” Shikles said. “It’s something that has a purpose and a really strong mission to it.”
Less than halfway through the sale, Shikles reported that the group had already doubled its sales from last year. All of this money will go toward funding rescue missions to free enslaved individuals across the globe. IJM plans to put on another pop-up thrift store sometime during the spring semester, spreading further awareness of the cause.
Edited by Janae McKenzie | firstname.lastname@example.org