ROCHELLE — One local high school student’s collection drive for victims of human trafficking not only drew in over 1,000 donations, but it also helped raise awareness on the grim subject.
Rochelle Township High School junior Sarah Dreska, along with several members of her family and her best friend, make the trek to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to deliver 1,178 items donated during the “Giving Hope” collection drive.
Milwaukee is the home of Exploit No More, an organization that provides shelter and supplies to victims. Dreska presented boxes and bins full of supplies and snacks to the executive coordinator, Melania Klemowits, and several of the staff members on hand.
“When I presented the items, I had so many emotions running through my body,” Dreska reflected. “I was so excited to hand them off to victims of human trafficking who truly need them. I also felt very blessed for the life I was gifted with. Presenting them made me so grateful for everything I have in my life because some people don’t even have the basic necessities.”
Dreska coordinated the collection drive with the assistance of nine other students and two faculty advisors, Katie Stietelmeier and Kristin Flanagan after she watched a documentary on human trafficking. The event took place during lunch periods at RTHS; collection boxes were also located in two classrooms and at the First Presbyterian Church.
“There were so many comments from people when they donated, so many people were struck at how horrible human trafficking truly is and they didn’t realize how bad things were since it’s not a talked about topic,” Dreska said. “There were also many people who were very proud of me for standing up to a difficult situation and doing what I can to help those that need it. I’m so glad I was able to help people in our community become more aware of the issue going on all around the world by doing this project.”
Dreska hopes to build on the success of the collection drive by conducting another project alongside members of the RTHS Interact Club in the coming months. She said details will be made available when they are finalized.
She extended a “huge thank you” to everyone that donated.
“I am so incredibly grateful to all of you,” Dreska added. “I would specifically like to say thank you to CHS in Rochelle for hopping alongside me with this project. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. I would also like to say thank you to all of the parishioners at the Presbyterian Church in Rochelle. Everything that was donated is greatly appreciated … thank you for helping me make a difference in people’s lives. I could not have done any of this without your generosity.”