Dinner theater raises funds for library project

The dinner raised about $3,000 for COSA’s Library Project.

An estimated 12.3 million people are trafficked each year, according to the International Labor Organization. The Newman Volunteer Corps raised awareness through music Saturday night. NVC held a dinner theatre event to support the Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia Library Project.

The Library Project works toward building a library at COSA’s Baan Yuu Suk shelter for human trafficking victims. All of the victims are underage girls — the youngest girl admitted to the shelter was 2 years old.

“(COSA) wants the library to provide educational resources for a better future,” NVC student co-director Stephanie Mathews said. “It is emotional therapy for these girls.”

The combined ticket sales, donations and an anonymous donation of $500 totaled to about $3,000.

Mathews said NVC decided to sponsor the Library Project because one of the Newman Center’s parishioners, Chelsea Laun, is teaching English at the shelter.

“We just knew we wanted to do something to help, and we wanted it to be big,” Mathews said. “One day it just came to us — we decided on dinner theatre because its something that appeals to students and our resident parishioners.”

Several students and campus student organizations performed at the dinner, including Mizzou Idol winner Alyssa Kelly, the Newman Center’s worship band E3, Add9 and the Naturelles.

“My PA saw me perform my step routine at Tiger Pageant,” freshman Darion Jordan said. “At first she wanted me to sing, but I step too, so that’s what I did. I’m glad I did it, because I love giving back to the community and charity is a good way to give it back.”

Although most of the night was filled with theatre, NVC and the Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition spread awareness about their cause.

“I think it’s important that people know about it, because most think that it’s an issue of the past,” said Emily Ponder, Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition member. “People don’t realize that it is still around. People don’t know to what degree either. Millions of people worldwide are trafficked, even in Missouri.”

During the Coalition’s presentation, member Sarah Mason revealed that Missouri has seen more than 150 cases of Human Trafficking in the past few years, 41 of which have been prosecuted.

“That isn’t to say Missouri has the most in the nation,” Mason said in her presentation. “Our prosecuting attorneys just have it heavy on their hearts.”

The biggest step anyone can take to prevent human trafficking is to recognize the signs and report it to the authorities, Ponder said.

“People need to look for the signs and report it in order to eradicate it,” Ponder said.

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