During the week of Feb. 27, Panhellenic Sorority Alpha Sigma Tau hosted Her Week, a week-long event advocating for global sex trafficking and raising money for its victims.
The donations collected throughout the week were in support of Wipe Every Tear, a non-profit organization that advocates for women and girls trafficked in the sex trade around the globe. According to the organization’s mission on their official website, “Wipe Every Tear exists to bring freedom, hope, and a future to precious girls trafficked in the sex trade.” Wipe Every Tear’s staff and volunteers work to seek out places in which the sex trade operates so they can build trusting relationships with victims to help facilitate their transition into a normal life. The organization also provides safe houses and opportunity for education to victims.
On the first day of the week, sisters from AST set up a tabling event outside of the Student Activities Building where they passed out Her Week buttons, informed passersby about the week’s efforts, Wipe Every Tear, and statistics about sex trafficking, and encouraged and collected donations. The sisters also started a social media campaign to promote their efforts with photos of people holding up the Her Week buttons with the hashtag #ASTHerWeek.
On the second and third days, the sisters again held informational tabling events and collected donations during the day. Throughout the day on Tuesday, the sorority encouraged women on campus to wear dresses to show support for and bring awareness to women and girls trafficked in the sex trade. During the evening, the sisters hosted a free self-defense class in the Bowl taught by sophomore Taylor Grishaber, who practices Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing.
On Wednesday, AST encouraged the Saint Leo campus community to wear white and the Her Week buttons in support of their cause and hosted a photo shoot in the SCC Courtyard in the evening. Participants wrote information and statistics about sex trafficking as well as encouraging and supportive messages in regards to their cause onto signs that they held up in the photos.
Throughout the week, people were encouraged to make donations in the names of the different fraternities on campus. For every twenty dollars raised in the name of each fraternity, one of their members volunteered to wear a dress over their clothes on the final day of Her Week to advocate for AST’s event and sex trafficking victims. This served as a way to get more people on campus involved in Her Week, to raise the greatest possible amount of money, and to bring awareness to sex trafficking and its victims around the globe. On the final day, a group of men from each fraternity on campus wore dresses over their clothes and came together during the day to take photos together.
To conclude Her Week, AST invited the campus to join them for a candle light vigil on the final day in the SCC Courtyard in honor of the victims of sex trafficking around the world.
Sophomore and Alpha Sigma Tau member Kristy Niccolls was the inspiration for the sorority’s fundraiser for Wipe Every Tear, as she traveled with the organization on their very first mission trip to the Philippines. Niccolls gave a personal testimony for the crowd at the vigil, discussing one specific girl that she connected with on the trip whose biggest dream in life was to go to college and become a professional woman. She then went on to discuss how through that trip, she learned the value of education, as it can easily be taken for granted.
“To these girls and women, high school (let alone college) was a distant dream, yet it is something that we take for granted so often. It seemed so fitting that a group of students, who are taking full advantage of the opportunities that we have in America, fundraise for those who dream of what we are doing every day,” stated Niccolls.
“The fact that our community saw the need and rushed to contribute makes me proud to be a lion. Saint Leo students live our core values every day, and I think that this is a perfect example of our unique community’s excellence,” Niccolls continued.
Alpha Sigma Tau raised a total of $2,351 during Her Week for Wipe Every Tear, exceeding their initial goal of $1,500.
“There are no words to explain how I feel about raising over $2,000. My goal was $1,500, and I was very optimistic we could reach it. Then, adding the numbers from the first twelve hours of collecting donations, I realized this goal was not only attainable, but we could surpass it. I won’t forget the moment that I was sitting in my room watching the donations come in online and finally hitting $1,500. I actually cried because we had done it. We were truly going to impact and change the lives of these girls,” stated Juliette Stratis, sophomore, Alpha Sigma Tau member, and Her Week coordinator.
Alpha Sigma Tau has committed to donating the entire $2,351 to Wipe Every Tear, with their hope of changing the lives of women and girls affected by sex trafficking all around the world.