Events Raise Awareness of Social Injustice

by Office of Marketing | Apr 29, 2015
Bless Dress 2015
Students at the University of Valley Forge (UVF) are always looking for ways to align themselves with the university mission to prepare individuals for a life of service and leadership in the church and in the world. One way students do this is through creating and leading events that raise awareness and support various projects to end social injustice. This semester, a number of students took a stand against human trafficking and poverty by participating in two annual student-led events.
The week of March 23–27 kicked off with a weeklong event known as Confidence Week. Many students, faculty and staff participated by choosing not to wear makeup or hair styling products for one week. The purpose was to encourage a sense of confidence, security and authentic beauty among UVF students. Many participating individuals purchased Confidence Week t-shirts to show their support. The proceeds from the shirts were donated to Project Rescue, an initiative to rescue women from the human trafficking industry.
On the evening of March 28, nearly 100 students came to Flower Chapel to participate in Bless With a Dress. This event, headed up by early childhood education major, junior Shawna Johnson, turned out to be a huge success. “It is great to know that we are making a difference by creating awareness for such a huge problem in the world,” says Johnson. “Many times we think we can’t do anything to help, but that night, we were able to create awareness, pray and ask God to shed light in those dark places.” The goal of the event was ultimately to raise awareness about the global pandemic of human trafficking and raise funds to benefit Project Rescue.
Upon entry, students were charged an admittance fee of $5 and received a large brown bag to fill with clothes that had been donated from various UVF students in the months leading up to the event. A number of students were also featured as models in the annual Bless With a Dress fashion show. The show was presented in three segments held at different intervals throughout the evening. Businesses such as Panera Bread and Starbucks also supported the event by donating food for participants to enjoy while watching the fashion show and presentations.
In previous years, UVF’s various student-led ministries have made exquisite and sobering presentations about human trafficking that truly captured the hearts of the audience. This year, opening the night with a song of inspiration was UVF’s a capella group, Noteworthy. This was the first time that the group participated in the event. Another group, Dry Bones, performed a lyrical dance and AO1, UVF’s drama team, presented a human video. Both student ministries effectively communicated the heartbreaking realities of human trafficking through their talents in creative movement. Precious Gems, a student-led ministry with a mission to reach out to women who work at adult clubs in the surrounding community, raised awareness about what God is doing with its ministry. The night concluded with a time of prayer for those enslaved in human trafficking around the world. The Bless With a Dress event raised nearly $500 for Project Rescue.
A few weeks later, UVF students raised awareness for another social injustice. Night of Awareness, an annual event led by students in UVF’s Homeless Ministry, took place on April 16. This event lends a helping hand to the homeless, organizes prayer for opportunities and restoration. UVF students partnered with Good Samaritan Shelter, a Phoenixville ministry that provides shelter and food to homeless men, to make care packages filled with personal care items like soap, toothbrushes and socks. The group also inserted “Carenotes” with a message to encourage and spread the word about Good Samaritan Shelter to the individuals who would receive the packages. 

Men who had previously been homeless and found help through Good Samaritan Shelter shared testimonies throughout the night, helping listeners to understand how to reach out to those in need on the streets. The evening closed with a candlelight vigil and intercessory prayer for any spiritual or physical needs the homeless in surrounding communities might have. After the event, participants were encouraged to sleep outside in cardboard boxes in order to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless. 
"The goal of sharing the Gospel is to act as Jesus would", said pastoral ministries major and sophomore Zach Thorp. Thorp assisted Zac Way, a junior majoring in pastoral counseling, in organizing Night of Awareness.