Redwood students seek to scrub human trafficking out of the Valley

Redwood High School students hosts car wash to raise funds for Students Against Trafficking club, spread awareness on human trafficking

VISALIA – Students at Redwood High School are putting the pedal to their meddle as they host car wash fundraiser for their anti human trafficking club.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, students from Redwood High School (RHS) will raise funds for their Students Against Trafficking club by hosting a $10 car wash. The car wash will be on RHS campus in the student parking lot, on the corner of Conyer Street and Mineral King Avenue. It begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 4 p.m., and all funds made within the four hours will go directly to the student club to support their goal of scrubbing human trafficking from the Central Valley.

“I think it’s really important for kids, and teens especially, to understand online safety,” club president and founder Izek Nelson said. “And understand what human trafficking is and how to recognize and handle it.”

Izek said the club, founded in 2020, has attempted to plan for a fundraiser before but has had difficulty with the process, in part because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic on schools. He said this year, the club made the decision to host a large fundraiser to help raise money and spread awareness amongst the community.

Along with the car wash, there will be two other additional events going on all day. There will be a movie screening of “It’s Happening Right Here” by Hollywood director Nick Nanton at the high school’s LJ Williams Theater. The screening starts at 7 p.m. and entry is $5. The documentary is a new film from DNA Films that informs watchers about the dangers of human trafficking and the ways it can happen in any community.

All proceeds made for the film will be donated to the student club’s leading inspiration, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), a nonprofit organization working against human trafficking.

“Our family has been extremely involved with this non-profit since 2015,” Rashelle Nelson, Izek’s mother, said. “We truly want to do all we can to help spread more awareness on how human trafficking exists, even in our local neighborhoods.”

Food trucks like Quesadilla Gorilla, Big Papa’s Wood Fired Pizza, A&W, Stix Churroholics and O’s Candy Pop will also set up shop in front of the theater between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for anyone looking to purchase a meal before attending the screening.

In addition to the car wash and screening, the club will also host a free online safety training in the RHS cafeteria at 10 a.m. to educate participants about the dangers of online trafficking. Although a sensitive topic for some, Rashelle Nelson said she hopes many community members attend the film showing so parents can understand the importance of online safety when it comes to their children. She also said Tyson Wright, an education program manager for O.U.R., will be in attendance to assist the club with the online training.

Students Against Trafficking is an extension of O.U.R. that was brought to RHS by Izek in his freshman year of high school, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Izek, a junior now, said he learned a lot about the dangers of human trafficking the more his family became involved with O.U.R. and wanted to spread that awareness amongst other kids and teenagers.

“My parents were teaching me about human trafficking, what is it, how it happens and about internet safety,” Izek said. “And I think it just blossomed from there.”

O.U.R. a nonprofit organization founded by Tim Ballard in October 2013. According to the O.U.R. website, since it was founded, the organization has gathered world experts in extraction operations and anti-child trafficking to put an end to this form of child slavery. O.U.R.’s operation team consists of former CIA agents, past and current law enforcement and skilled operatives who lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. The website states that their work is always in conjunction with law enforcement worldwide.

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