#sextrafficking | Klein Collins students host ‘Arrow Drive’ to raise awareness about human trafficking | #tinder | #pof | #match


A group of students at Klein Collins High School are calling attention to a devastating issue impacting communities near and far, including their own — human trafficking. Hoping to effect change, the group launched an initiative to not only raise awareness, but to help victims of abuse and human trafficking.

The project originated last year when SkillsUSA members at Klein Collins hosted self-defense classes by trained Klein ISD police officers for girls in school, followed by a presentation about the impact of sex trafficking.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit focused on preparing middle school, high school, and postsecondary students for the workforce. Through the collaborative efforts of students, teachers, and industry professionals, SkillsUSA develops members’ skills to succeed in their future careers. Members have the opportunity to participate in projects, competitions, educational events other programs.

The group at Klein Collins decided to continue with the topic by researching places that helped victims in their community and reached out to Arrow Child & Family Ministries.

“This organization offers help to victims to help them overcome the traumatic experiences that they have been through. Our group has not done this just for the competition, we have decided to do this to be able to help our community and to have the girls know that they are not alone,” said Klein Collins senior Melanie Lopez.

Lopez and other members of SkillsUSA teamed up with Arrow Child & Family Ministries to host an Arrow Drive last month at Klein Collins High School to gather donations for the Spring-based nonprofit and help raise awareness about human trafficking.

Lopez is thankful to those who participated for helping them make a difference in their community and surrounding areas.

“Without any of y’all this would have not been possible,” Lopez said. “I would also like to tell people that do not know about this that you never know when something like this could happen to you or someone that you may know. We should all just look out for each other.”

Rebecca Schultz is the SkillsUSA Chapter 3819 advisor and guides students in the direction they need to go to complete their goals. She lauded Lopez and her team for being so motivated to help the Arrow.

“It is wonderful to see students being so selfless,” Schultz said. “I believe the drive accomplished a goal set by the students along with helping women in need. It also brings awareness to the needs in our community in this pandemic.”

The idea for the Arrow Drive began when SkillsUSA members brainstormed different ideas for their community service competition, Lopez said, and human trafficking was a topic that stood out. She said fellow senior Stephanie Estrada researched the topic more and realized it had a vast impact in Houston overall.

“We’re still in the process of gathering donations, but so far it’s going good, as we’ve reached many different audiences and gathered so many different items — we hope to provide the Arrow organization with more than enough donations.” Estrada said.

‘Sensitive topic’

Arrow Child & Family Ministries is an organization that helps children and strengthens families through child welfare and educational services. Estrada said the group decided to team up with Arrow as they have a program that helps girls find their personal path toward healing.

“Sometimes it’s survivors from sex trafficking, which fit in the topic we were going with for our project.” Estrada said.

Lopez said donatable items included body wash, deodorant, alcohol-free mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and plastic combs. She said only full-size items were accepted because the victims that the items are going to may be triggered with travel-size items.

“People have been very generous by donating items to be able to obtain hours for different clubs at our school or just to be generous,” Lopez said.

SkillsUSA member Scott Smylie said human trafficking is a big problem in many communities and a topic most people don’t talk about or bring attention to. He said their main goal throughout this whole project was to get more people involved and educated about sex trafficking.

“A network that lures people into the human trafficking system is around our school, so we thought it would be important to educate our community about it.” Smylie said. “We wanted to provide more information on how to be aware of it, how to protect yourself, and places you can contact for help.”

Estrada said everyone from the group simply wanted to bring awareness.

“This is a very sensitive topic that can happen to anybody so we just want to make sure people are educated on it and remember different ways on how to be cautious so we can hopefully one day bring an end to this incredibly scary action,” she said.

Spreading the word

To promote the cause, Smylie said people helped spread the word about the drive by telling their friends and family and posting about it on social media.

“We also provided an Amazon link that has a list of items that people can just purchase, and it will be sent to the address we provided in it,” Smylie said.

The national nonprofit started in 1965 and serves students who are preparing for trade, technical, and skilled service careers such as health occupations.

Lopez said she decided to join the community service group to branch out and meet new people. She said the association of students, teachers and industry workers has impacted her life positively because she has been able to get real life experience in working with other people in different career paths.

“When we went to competition, we were able to meet new people from different schools around our district,” Lopez said. “This allowed me to make new friends and build relationships with students that I have never talked to before at Klein Collins.”

Lopez said some members will not be able to continue with competitions next year because this is their senior year. She said she would like the chance to come back and help with future community service events.

“I would also like to keep doing drives each year and make it like a tradition to be able to change and better our community little by little,” Lopez said. “As we go off to college this fall, I also hope I can keep bringing the awareness into the community and maybe start up a new club or organization that helps with this topic.”

alvaro.montano@chron.com



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