Around a dozen middle and high school students, over a dozen college students, a few elementary kids and several adults in Hillsboro are participating in a worldwide fundraiser known as Dressember.
According to their website, Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who’ve been exploited for their femininity. Women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, as they advocate to restore dignity to all women. In addition to raising awareness, the goal is to raise funds to help rescue those trapped in human trafficking.
This event was started six years ago by a woman, Blythe Hill, who wanted to do something to make a difference. As she began to spread the word, more got involved enabling the cause to break out worldwide. There are now women from all walks of life, including celebrities who participate in the fundraiser every December. Men can also participate by wearing a tie every day.
Hillsboro native Molly Wiebe Faber has been participating for five years. She heard about it during her freshmen year at Tabor from a professor and decided to participate. By her senior year, she was leading a team of around 20 students. She is participating again at her graduate school in England.
“Dressember is a great experience. Personally, I don’t think the wearing a dress part of it really does anything for human trafficking. But for me it is my daily reminder of what I’m doing this month. It’s like the uniform that goes along with mission,” said Wiebe Faber. “I would encourage other people to consider doing it, too. It’s a great experience.”
Danielle Armstrong is leading the team this year as part of her role as president of the Social Justice club at Tabor. Danie is a senior and this is her second year participating.
“I do Dressember to spread awareness and raise funds to help save as many people that can be saved from bondage,” said Armstrong.
Tabor senior Chloe Lind is participating and did several art pieces to coincide with Dressember.
“I guess I was just hoping to use my art to raise questions and be a part of the conversation about what objectification is and how it effects human trafficking,” said Lind. “At points it was inconvenient to wear dresses but it was worth it.”
And one of the days, Lind’s dress will be special.
“I am getting married this December and am going to use my wedding dress for one day of it,” said Lind.
It’s not just college students stepping up. Many high school and middle school students are as well.
Sarah Paulus, HHS sophomore, has been participating for four years. Her first year she just worked on raising awareness and then after that, she began raising funds as well.
“It’s really great to see how teachers at the school get involved by giving money or just encouraging us. A lot of our classmates are very supportive, too.”
Taryah Miller, sophomore, has also participated for several years on teams. This year she is doing her own team.
“I have a big heart for change. I also am also a very passionate person, having something productive and good to put that passion towards is very encouraging,” said Miller. “Past experiences have been awesome. I love seeing the community bond over something so good. I’ve learned to not get discouraged if you don’t get donations every day. Trust God and his plan. Also make sure you watch the weather reports and always have a jacket. Dresses are cute, but they’re also cold.”
Newcomer to Dressember, Dani Klein, is excited about joining the cause this year with her fellow students.
“At my youth group, we had been watching videos that involved human trafficking. It just really made me want to do something about it. That’s when I realized that the people all around me were doing Dressember and that I want to be a part of it,” said Klein.
Kyla Isaac, team leader for the HMHS team this year, explains how every little bit can help.
“With just $20, a trafficking survivor can receive a relief kit that will help them get back on their feet and feel loved. With $105, court fees can be covered so a victim can prosecute their abuser. And for me, that is enough to change the world. I can do that, I can raise 20 or even 200 dollars and that will make an impact,” said Isaac.
After watching older women do Dressember for five years, two HES fourth graders are joining the cause.
“It’s fun because you get to do it with your friends. Also, you can help people,” said Ruth Paulus.
“Dressember is when you get to wear dresses every day and raise money for a cause,” said Rylie Hein.
For more information, either to join a team or to donate, go to www.dressember.org. If you would like to donate specifically to any of the ladies in the article or someone you know, go to https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/fundraiser/firstname-lastname or to the team name at https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/team/tabor-college-social-justice-club for Tabor or https://dressember-2018.funraise.org/team/galations-513 for HMHS students.