“Hey Lancers! Are you in a band or musically inclined? Do you also want to help stop human trafficking?” Senior Bob Martin’s voice fills the speakers during announcements and kids giggle. Although it may sound funny, it’s a serious matter for members of SME Coalition. Love 146 is a non-profit organization that helps stop “today’s slavery”—human trafficking. Human trafficking is the trade of human beings for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Love 146’s goal is “to work towards the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation through Prevention and Aftercare solutions.” And East Coalition wants to help.
“Love 146, I think, is awesome because anyone can be involved in it,” said sophomore Coalition member Brennan Williams. “Everyone thinks Coalition is just ‘The Africa Club,’ but [Love 146] concerns the whole world.”
On Saturday February 26, the district Coalition will be holding a 5K run/walk to raise awareness and money for Love 146. The run will be held at Shawnee Mission Park and will start at 9 a.m.
East Coalition will also be holding their second annual Love 146 concert to raise money for the organization. The concert is the night of March 10. It will be at Village Presbyterian in the Youth Loft and all proceeds will be go to Love 146.
“It’s a Thursday night so I don’t think anyone has any huge plans,” William said. “There’s no reason to not go support this for half an hour.”
Last semester Coalition raised money for the organization Charity: water. They held a bake sale and sold water bottles to raise money for the organization. Members of Coalition also went to First Fridays in the Crossroads district and asked for donations from passerby. Walking through downtown Kansas City with water jugs filled with murky water strapped to their backs, the students went around telling bystanders facts and information about Charity: water. They wandered the streets in the frigid cold, raising awareness and asking for money.
“Even though we didn’t have signs or pamphlets [the people] were relatively open-minded and were like, ‘Oh we want to help your cause,’” sophomore Roberto Sada said.
First Fridays ended up being a success, and they raised around $150.
“Some people were disappointed,” Roberto said. “I thought that was pretty good considering we were just standing out on a sidewalk just saying give us money.”
By the end of the semester, Coalition had raised enough money to build a well through Charity: water.
Coalition has also done multiple smaller projects with an organization called Change the Truth. During the winter season they had candy cane sales, where people would buy a candy cane to send to a friend.
All this has happened with a new sponsor and president leading them. Last year, Coalition sponsor David Muhammed left East and new sponsor James Meara took his place. Likewise, after the graduation of Sarah Are, last year’s Coalition president, senior Emily Collins took over.
Meara was recommended by Muhammed because he thought Meara would be a good fit for the spirit of the group.
“He’s a young, kind guy who I thought was passionate,” Muhammed said.
Muhammed knew Meara from college: both attended Emproria State University. Muhammed had seen him around school during college and knew he was an artsy guy. He thought he would be an open-minded passionate guy and good for the job.
East Coalition formed in 2008 after East graduates Sarah Are and Jessie Light heard about SM South and the Coalition group they had formed. Are and Light immediately started e-mailing faculty after they learned about it, wanting to bring the group to East. They got it approved and started East Coalition right away.
“[Coalition] is a vision in action for students who can’t just sit still while others are hurting and alone,” Are said.
She believes Coalition revolves around action and awareness. The first year the group only raised around $500 and raised less awareness. After learning from their mistakes the group raised around $7,000 the next year.
“We definitely got more involved in the community and created a more established name for ourselves,” Are said.
Coalition hopes to have a good turn out and raise awareness at the concert. Williams wants people to come who aren’t so involved so they can learn about the cause.
“I want [them] to learn more about Coalition,” Williams said. “And see what it’s about and maybe get involved.”