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Students Sell Easter Sweets for Sweeter Freedom

Originally published in The Gonzaga Bulletin:

Hoping to raise awareness around Easter and encourage people to make conscious decision when purchasing chocolates and candies, the International Justice Mission (IJM) club will be selling fair trade chocolate in Crosby through today.

IJM is a global organization working to bring justice to the poor and prevent violence in developing countries. Sophomore Chelsea Gibson, chapter president of IJM, says, “The main focus is to find the perpetrator of a crime, hold them to justice, restore the survivors, and strengthen the justice system as a whole.”

Gonzaga’s chapter of IJM consists of a small group of students dedicated to justice as a cause.

“We try to raise awareness for the different human rights abuses and the different works that IJM does, and we also try to fundraise where we can, because with any non profit, funding is always an issue,” Gibson said.

The IJM club hopes to shed light on the unethical labor practices that usually occur in the manufacturing of chocolate during its chocolate sale.

“[The chocolate] has an Easter theme to it,” Gibson said. “They have little stickers on them that have Easter bunnies, and then there are some statistics on the back that talk about how much Americans consume chocolate from Easter, but then where that chocolate comes usually from.”

“We [want] to raise funds and awareness for International Justice Mission and to inform students of the injustice in the cocoa industry through the stickers we are putting on the chocolate bars,” said Megan O’Malley, the club’s public relations officer.

The chocolate is from a company called Theo in Seattle, the first organic and fair trade chocolate factory in North America.

“They pay all of the cocoa farmers enough to live off of their wages and also promote sustainable agriculture,” Gibson said. “It’s both parts environmental and ethical.”

The money raised will be used for the Stand for Freedom event on April 8; any money not used for the event will be sent back to IJM. Planning their event during IJM’s Global Week of Action, the club hopes to bring awareness to students on campus.

“Stand for Freedom is an event that college chapters will be taking part in across the country,” O’Malley said. “Each IJM college chapter chooses a 24-hour period when they will put on event after event in order to raise awareness about slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing and citizenship rights abuse.”

GU students will have the opportunity to sign an electronic petition to show how they stand on these issues.

The petitions at the event will later be shown to elected officials to show that students care about issues surrounding modern day slavery and the ethics of manufacturers. T-shirts will be sold at the event as well, and all proceeds will be returned to IJM.

“We’re also encouraging students to participate in IJM’s social media campaign by marking themselves with ‘I Stand for Freedom’ and posting a picture on social media,” O’Malley said.

“I’m hoping the chapter [will] grow,” Gibson said. “As someone that cares about a social issue, I would love to see more people care about it, but even more importantly I would like to have more people educated.”

Gibson and other IJM club members hope to continue educating students regarding modern-day slavery.

“I want the awareness to grow,” Gibson said. “If more and more people become activists in this issue, then IJM won’t have to exist. One of the big things that IJM stresses to its chapters is that we could be the generation that sees the end of modern-day slavery. It’s not out of reach.”

For more information about Stand For Freedom, visit http://www.stand-for-freedom.com/home.

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