UNICEF club fundraises to help end human trafficking


Freshmen Jada Venson, Elena Wigglesworth, Alexis Shugars, and Olivia DeWan sell baked goods at Giant on February 23. The club raised over $500 to send to UNICEF. Photo: Stephanie DeWan

Students have come together this year to start the first UNICEF club at our school, fundraising to lower the amount of human trafficking and poverty worldwide, and to help children in need around the world. Around 5.5 million victims of human trafficking are under the age of 18, and one-fifth of all identified trafficking victims are children.

Freshman Olivia DeWan, president of the club, learned about it from a family member, and was instantly interested. “LCHS UNICEF club has definitely made my freshman year more interesting,” DeWan said. “It opened my eyes to huge problems that children face around the world. It made me more aware of how others are suffering and that we can actually do stuff to help them.”

Some of those problems are poverty, child marriage, a lack or shortage of vaccines or medicine that they need,  and horrible living situations. According to DeWan, UNICEF helps children outside of the United States, and the money they raise goes to places where kids are in need. “We fundraise, and all that money gets sent back to UNICEF and they disperse it out to children anywhere. It goes to whatever UNICEF thinks children need help with most, so it could be education, food, clothing, medicine, or anything,” she said.

DeWan had to register with the UNICEF organization before starting the club, and after she was approved, she was able to gather friends and a sponsor to start it. The sponsor for the club is spanish teacher Bryan Boeing. According to DeWan, many of her friends wanted to help. Freshmen Jada Venson and Alexis Shugars immediately stepped up, and they hold officer positions.

DeWan was inspired to make a difference. “I have always wanted to help people, but I wasn’t sure how to,” DeWan says. “That’s why I started the UNICEF club, because it gives me and others the opportunity to help children in need.”

Starting the club isn’t all that DeWan’s job is. “As president, my job is to run the meetings, be at the fundraising events, answer any questions that our members might have, and to stay up to date with what UNICEF is doing,” DeWan said. ”I also help organize events and co-run the social media accounts with Jada.” The club uses social media to inform about what UNICEF is, meetings, and upcoming events.

The club is using the money they raised from their recent bake sale to help stop human trafficking. Countries like North Korea, Syria, and Russia have high rates of trafficking and forced labor. More than half of the population in Syria has been displaced due to war, and the Syrians in refugee camps are very vulnerable to trafficking. Their goal was $300, but they exceeded it and raised over $500, which was sent to UNICEF USA.

Many people don’t get informed about the problems that come from human trafficking. It can cause people to develop PTSD, and other things. “It’s really, really harmful,” DeWan says. “A lot of people don’t speak out about it because it’s something so horrible, it’s frowned upon and people aren’t getting the help they need.”

Venson, the secretary, has an important role in the club and in fundraisers. “My role in organizing the bake sale was to get the information out and help our message get out there.” She also keeps track of dates and takes notes at meetings.

According to Venson, even if you don’t join the club, but you still want to help, you can contribute and support UNICEF by staying up to date with what the club is doing, coming to meetings, and going to fundraisers.

“Being in UNICEF LCHS has affected me in many ways. Being in the club has gotten me out of my shell when talking about things I’m passionate about.” Venson said, “This club has made me very happy knowing that I can help others even as just a young girl.”

At meetings, the club members discuss what needs to get done, decide what fundraisers to do, and set up the fundraiser once they decide what it is. At the first meetings, they introduced the club, and got the word out to people.

The freshmen want to continue and grow the club throughout their years in high school, and help children that are suffering. According to Venson, the current plans are to raise their yearly goal and send the money to UNICEF USA to help kids who are trafficked.

“I plan to try and grow the club as much as I can. I can do this by getting more members, doing more fundraisers, and by spreading the word about UNICEF. I want everyone to be able to help others and this club is a great way to do that!” DeWan says.