RPL students hosting concert Thursday to benefit Women at Risk

A group of students on campus are looking to put the issue of human trafficking in the spotlight.

On Thursday, RPL 430: Planning Recreation Programs and Events class will host a benefit concert at Hunter's Ale House, 4855 E. Blue Grass Road, for Women at Risk, a Grand Rapids organization that raises awareness of human trafficking and sex slavery in the U.S. and 14 other countries.

Along with performances starting at 9 p.m. by Mount Pleasant bands Ben Schuller Plus Three, Mark Daisy and Grand Rapids band Bennett, there will be jewelry made from the charity on sale.

The group is also having a pre-sale for $3 wristbands in the University Center this week. Those over 21 can buy a special wristband for drink specials.

Event organizer and Waterford junior Stephanie Collar said the charity group saves women from the world of human trafficking and hires them to make jewelry, of which the money made from selling the jewelry goes to them.

"It's not only saving these women, but it's giving them a chance to change their lives," Collar said.

Collar said she did not know much about the charity at first but, after researching it, wants to educate others about it.

"We want to teach people about the charity," she said. "We will have a video that shows where the money they're donating is going to as well."

Human trafficking affects 27 million men, women and children in the U.S., according to an FBI study from 2009 to 2012.

The Victims of Violence and Protection Act defines human trafficking in two ways: "Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age," and "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, personage, debt bondage, or slavery."

Saginaw senior Ben Schuller,  lead singer of Ben Schuller Plus Three, said he learned a bit about Women at Risk after being asked to perform at the event.

"It's not something that many people think about happening in the U.S., which is why it's so great that this event is spreading awareness and raising money," he said.

He said he enjoys playing charity events such as this because everyone there is focused on promoting a cause.

"I love meeting the people who work for the organizations that we support and seeing how much it means to them that we are donating our time to help their cause," he said.


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