COLUMBIA — Students smashed cars and threw pies Wednesday for a charity fair at Hickman High School benefiting the Not For Sale Campaign, which fights human trafficking worldwide.
The fair was organized by candidates for "courtwarming" — "basically homecoming for basketball,” candidate Cale Fichter said. It is part of a week-long series of events and an all-year, schoolwide effort to raise money in support of the campaign against human trafficking.
Hickman student government is hosting the Purple Cow Lip Sync at 7 p.m. Thursday in the school auditorium, 1104 N. Providence Road. Students will compete and community members will judge the event. Admission is $5.
Also, a "free to play" basketball game will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in the school's gym, and crowd members are asked to donate a nickel per point.
The effort at Hickman, sparked by a visit in September by David Batstone, president of the Not For Sale Campaign, has attracted many of the school's more than 2,100 students.
"The students were so impressed with the campaign that they decided to get involved," said George Frissell, the Hickman English teacher who invited Batstone to speak at the school.
“(Batstone's) presentation was actually kind of shocking,” courtwarming candidate Ken Araiza said.
Araiza played guitar and sold pizza for a dollar a slice to raise money at the charity fair. Candidate Drew Mitrisin found an old car at a salvage yard and charged $5 for five minutes with the car and a sledgehammer. Candidate Amann Woldeghebriel took shaving-cream pies in the face for $1 a throw. Candidate Larry Shim organized a Buffalo Wild Wings eating contest, where participants paid $5 for three minutes.
“It’s just been really chaotic and fun,” senior Meredith Cristal said.
But many remembered why they were there.
“It’s really great that Hickman does this," candidate Alex Turner said. "(Courtwarming is) not just a popularity contest anymore. It’s really more that we’re getting out there and helping those that need it.”
Senior Nadia Vizitei defined human trafficking as “forcing people to work through anywhere from physical to psychological intimidation.”
Vizitei was already aware of human trafficking, though she knew others had not yet heard about the issue. “I think the most important thing is that there’s awareness, that it’s not abolished yet.”
According to the Not For Sale Campaign, 27 million people are enslaved worldwide. Of all the people trafficked each year, half are children, according to the film "Look Beneath the Surface: Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking in the U.S.," which Frissell showed to students at an Amnesty International club meeting.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to think there are kids my age going through that,” Turner said.
Hickman students were invited to wear orange to the charity fair. “Orange is the color of abolition,” Vizitei said.
“It’s a way to get everybody doing what they do but focusing on a schoolwide initiative,” said Jami Thornsberry, a social studies teacher and a club sponsor at Hickman. One of those clubs, Trieme, for female seniors, is selling Valentine's Day flowers and holding other fundraisers throughout the year for the Not For Sale Campaign.
"It educates our population and gets our students working toward a more just world," Frissell said.