Community partnership helps human trafficking victims

In its inaugural year, the Clothesline Project is working to provide clothes for girls and young women who have fallen victim to human trafficking.

From Dec. 3 through 21, students, faculty and community members can donate gently used clothes to the project, which is an effort by the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education Case Western Reserve University. The various drop off locations are located around campus and include Fribley Commons, Wade Commons, the Social Justice Institute in Crawford Hall and the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning in the Tinkham Veale University Center.

“We wanted the project to happen near the end of the semester, when people are packing up to go home,” explained Jeff Kretschmar, managing director at the Begun Center. “Hopefully, when people are going through their clothes, they’ll find some items that they want to donate rather than take home with them.”

The Begun Center has partnered with RAHAB Ministries in Akron, Ohio, which will be the recipients of the donations. RAHAB works with the county juvenile court to provide specialized services to children who are at risk or are victims of human trafficking. These include mentoring, providing transportation to counseling and doctor’s appointments and providing basic necessities.

By providing clothing to these children, RAHAB decreases the hold traffickers have over the victims and helps allow the victims the opportunity to leave that lifestyle.

“A lot of the kids that RAHAB works with don’t have much and are in bad financial situations. That can actually lead them to human trafficking, and the trafficker can keep them there and hold control over them by promising things like clothes which is really appealing to these kids,” said Kretschmar.

RAHAB Ministries and the Clothesline Project’s main demographic is women and girls ages 12- to 20-years-old. Winter-appropriate clothes are of particular interest for donations, including long-sleeved shirts, boots, jeans, sweaters and jackets. RAHAB Ministries is always in need of help from the community through donations of clothing, toiletries and gas cards, or in volunteers.

Kretschmar said, “This agency does really great work. I am really happy the people on campus stepped up and allowed us the opportunity to put this event on.”

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