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Onalaska teen turns one-time drive for sexual assault survivors into nonprofit

Jessica Randall wanted to ensure survivors of sexual assault are sent home from the hospital wearing real underwear and clothes instead of scrubs and disposable underwear, so she set out to be the change.

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When someone is seen in the emergency room after an assault, their clothes are often taken into evidence.

This leaves a person who has just experienced major trauma leaving the hospital in paper scrubs and disposable underwear.

When Jessica Randall, a junior from Onalaska High School, learned this sad fact in an article she read, she knew she needed to help.

Randall explains that most people don’t know that this situation happens across the country.

“No one should experience that discomfort, especially after a trauma,” Randall said. “It all started with an email and I asked if this is what happens, and unfortunately yes, this is what happens in our community. I knew I needed to do something, I seized the opportunity.”

With her school principal’s support, Randall started a clothing drive that led to creating the non-profit called ‘Survivor Clothing Project.’

After hanging flyers and sharing information on the drive on social media, the word spread quickly.

“I had to take like five bags of clothing home from school every day because boxes were overflowing,” she said. “I had to fix this, because it hits close to home and I’ve really loved being an advocate for this because most people think, ‘Oh, it’s not a me problem.’

“Well, it could be. It could happen to anyone, and so we need to all be aware of that and support each other.”

“Recent data from the CDC shows that one in three women and one in four men will be sexually violated in their lifetime,” Randall continued. “So many people are affected by this. And the reality is, it can happen to anyone, anytime, regardless of your age or gender identity or your race.”

Randall and the Survivor Clothing Project have facilitated donations of over 1,000 clothing items to local hospitals so far.

“It’s been quite the experience and so I’m thankful for all the help I’ve gotten because this would not be possible without the help of the community and people spreading the word,” Randall said.

It currently has plenty of clothing donations, but this will be a continuous effort to raise funds for the cause.

Eventually, the clothing will sadly need to be replenished at both hospitals and the funds will support that. The money will also go towards hospital funds for sexual abuse survivors to help them with whatever they require, following their trauma.

If you’d like to make a monetary donation, you can drop off cash, or a check made out to “Survivor Clothing Project,” to Onalaska High School.

Mail: 700 Hilltopper Place, Onalaska, WI 54650.

If you have questions, email [email protected]gmail.com.

Randall says one important thing she’s learned is, “it’s not that hard to create change.”

Follow Survivor Clothing Project on social media: Facebook and Instagram.

Listen to her entire interview with the Z93 Morning Buzz here:

Tracy has worked at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 2004. She is half of the Z93 Morning Buzz with Brittany and Ballzer and coordinates Z93's charity, Zcare. She writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse and announces for the Mississippi Valley Mayhem Roller Derby team.

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