Area students stepping up to combat human trafficking

Items collected for victims of human trafficking. COURTESY: Taylor Tompkins, Derby High School, senior

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – ICT S.O.S., the Wichita based organization connecting local agencies who work with human trafficking victims, launched a student advisory board.

That student advisory board is called ICT HOPE. The word HOPE stands for “Helping Overcome and Prevent Exploitation.”

Toni Tompkins and her twin sister Taylor are seniors at Derby High School. They are two of 22 high school and college students on the student advisory board.

“Anything that I can do to help I’d like to do,” Toni said.

For them, it’s about the people they’re helping.

“To make a difference in the community,” Taylor Tompkins said. “To be able to change something and help improve people’s lives.

Because January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, the ICT HOPE board is collecting clothing and comfort items for the ICT S.O.S “fresh start bags” all month. Their goal is to pack 400 bags for local distribution.

“If we like put it out there enough, yes, we’re making little tiny steps but they’re gonna lead to something bigger,” said Jadin Kaltenback, a senior at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School where she’s asking students to bring her items to use for the “fresh start bags.”

Locations all around Sedgwick County including schools, all Wichita Police Department substations and Millers Cleaners are collecting the items to make the bags.

For Jenna Baldwin, a junior at Newton High School, the project is about raising awareness of the crime.

“I’m not sure very many people realize that it’s a real issue in the small town that we live in,” she said.

For other students, the focus is simply raising awareness about human trafficking among peers.

“It gave me an opportunity to help out with it with it and to kind of bring it to my school and to let all my friends know and the people I go to school with about the issue,” said Shea Witherspoon, a senior at Goddard High School.

On February 4, volunteers will pack the “fresh start bags” for distribution.

For a full list of where you can drop items off, click here.

For a full list of accepted items, click here.

Friday, on Kansas Today KSN will share how you make a difference in combating local human trafficking.