Today is Day One

Day one of a month-long commitment to dresses. Why dresses? Because it's #Dressember, of course!

Two years ago, I participated in my first Dressember challenge with my two best friends from college. The same two best friends who were by my side in every meeting of our campus' chapter of International Justice Mission. I can't speak for either of them, but I really didn't even know that slavery existed in the world today. So, the fact that there are 40 million people enslaved (more today than in any other time in world history), obviously blew my mind.

After three years of participating in our IJM chapter, my friend Laura and I stepped up to lead. For a year, we hosted weekly meetings, we organized campus-wide fundraising events, and we prayed fervently. We prayed for widows in Kenya who had their land and home seized right from under them. We prayed for small, vulnerable Phillipine children tricked and manipulated into the seedy, grotesque and evil world of sex trafficking. We prayed for Indian families who were enslaved in brick kilns to pay off minor debts.

It was true then and it's true now- as long as there are people enslaved, abused, and trafficked in this world, I will do my incredibly small part to help free them.

Meeting Gary Haugen, the President of IJM, at the 2010 Global Prayer Gathering

Which brings me to today.

What does my wearing a dress for a month have to do with any of this? Dressember is an annual campaign to raise funds for organizations seeking an end to modern day slavery and sex trafficking.

Why a dress? Because dresses have long been seen as a symbol of weakness, submissiveness and inequality. Not anymore. We are reclaiming this traditionally feminine article of clothing and taking a stand against those who abuse their power, manipulate the vulnerable, and seek to harm the innocent.

Where does the money go? This year, proceeds from Dressember go to International Justice Mission, A21, and McMahon Ryan which coincidentally is located in my hometown of Syracuse, NY. These organizations do different work, but all are devoted to freeing people who have been trafficked, caring for them in the aftermath, and restoring the justice system to stop the cycle of violence.

I will be documenting my Dressember journey on Instagram and would encourage you to follow along. Two years ago, I was blown away by the generosity of my friends and family. People I hadn't even spoken to since high school donated to my fundraising page because the cause so deeply resonated with them. This year, I contemplated not doing it again, until a newer friend of mine shared that my Dressember journey two years ago inspired her to participate herself. After that, there was no way I was sitting this year out.

My newer friend, my two college friends, and my Mom are all donning dresses tomorrow and we would love if you would consider supporting us. Because it's bigger than a dress.

If you feel led to donate, here is my fundraising page.

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