A client and counselor hold a session at the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in 2014. This year, students at Highland Park High School will raise money for the organization. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Highland Park students pick rape crisis center as Charity Drive cause

Highland Park High School students have selected a Gurnee-based rape crisis center as the beneficiary of the school’s 2017 Charity Drive.

Funds raised during the 23rd annual Charity Drive will support the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, referred to as the ZCenter. For the past 34 years, the organization has helped survivors of sexual abuse through the healing process, according to a news release issued by the Zacharias Center.

“Sexual abuse is not an easy conversation to have,” noted Mia Harris, a student leader of this year’s drive, in the release. “But Highland Park High School students have decided to recognize the importance of sexual abuse and take a whole month to spread awareness, and also educate themselves. I voted for the ZCenter because I find this issue extremely important, especially for people my age.”

The Zacharias Center reports that 42 percent of its clients are under the age of 18. The organization serves more than 30,000 individuals annually through counseling, advocacy and prevention services.

Jennifer Yonan, the organization’s executive director, said the support of Highland Park High School students will help the organization provide a place where survivors of sexual assault and abuse can heal.

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Since Highland Park High School launched its February Charity Drive in the early 1990s, students have raised several million dollars for various causes. Last year, the drive raised $201,000 for College Bound Opportunities, which helps promising high school students of limited means realize their dream of attending and graduating college. Many are the first in their families to attend college.

The dozens of fundraising events include a chili cook-Off, a swim-a-thon, an improvisational Playback Theater performance, game nights , a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a battle of the bands, an HP Idol competition and a fashion show featuring student models, to name just a few.

The 24-hour-relay run, a Charity Drive mainstay sponsored by the boys’ and girls’ track teams, pulled in $40,000 in donations alone in 2016. For 24 hours straight — including the wee hours of the night — student athletes and supporters take turns running a mile around the school’s indoor track and passing off the baton to the next runner.

A silent auction of items donated by businesses and individuals raises a significant sum for the drive.


Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/ct-hpn-hphs-drive-to-benefit-zacharias-tl-0119-20170117-story.html

PIONEER PRESS | JAN 17, 2017 AT 3:29 PM


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