Francesca Chirco and Everly Kessler
The month of December is a time for giving thanks for what you have and for helping those who are less fortunate. We tend to show more compassion for others in December and throughout the holiday season. Going along with this trend, students and faculty at Jamesville-DeWitt High School are standing up to modern-day human trafficking, by taking part in a movement known as Dressember. Each week day of the month, people will be wearing dresses and/or ties in protest of the global problem of human trafficking.
This year, J-DHS students and staff members alike are taking part in Dressember. Social studies teacher Donna Oppedisano, a first year participant, has helped spread awareness by not only wearing a dress each day, but by talking to her classes about the movement and what it stands for. Mrs. Oppedisano’s influence has caused curious students to approach her with questions as to how they can also impact the movement. “Making sure people get the dignity, respect, and humanity they deserve is really what makes me tick,” said Mrs. Oppedisano.
Senior Lauren Westfall has also been a very prominent contributor to this movement as she was the one who started Dressember at J-DHS this year and has influenced others to join the cause. By both talking to friends and giving presentations to various classes, such as Mrs. Oppedisano’s Women Studies class, Westfall has gained many supporters.“The past year, I’ve really felt a need to do this and I tried to get as many people on board as I could,” said Westfall.
Sophomore Sophie Clinton has also been a critical advocate for Dressember, raising $1,066.75, the most money so far out of the J-D participants. Clinton worked hard to convince friends and family members to join the movement. Additionally, she has spread awareness in the process, as many people are unaware of this cause and its purpose. Even Clinton herself was originally oblivious to this cause. She was informed by Westfall about how she could serve as the voice for all the women and children being sold around the world, who cannot advocate for themselves.“Nobody knows about this movement and people will eventually ask why I’m wearing a dress every day and (so then) learn and spread awareness about this problem,” said Clinton.
Other J-DHS staff and students are also taking part in this month-long movement. Senior Elizabeth Sabatino was influenced by Westfall to support this movement and has since raised $251.75 for the cause. Sabatino felt empowered to take a stand and wanted to do her part in helping all the women and children who are involved and affected by human trafficking. “Thirty percent of women and 30 percent of children are involved. It’s even happening in our own backyard,” said Sabatino. Fellow participant, junior Alan Gao wants to show his support as well and is wearing ties at least once a week for the month of December. J-D advocates such as, English teacher Mrs. Myers-Kelly, sophomore Allia Mitchell, and freshman, Max Mimaroglu are also dressing up and actively funding for the cause.
All of the J-DHS Dressember participants are fundraising along with dressing up. Each advocate has a page in which anyone can donate in order to help that person reach their desired goal. As a whole, the J-DHS Dressember participants have been able to raise a total of $2,630.28, exceeding their original goal of $2,000.
“Dressember is an opportunity to reclaim and reappropriate the dress as a symbol of freedom and power; a flag for the inherent dignity of all people,” said the Dressember Foundation.
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