Local vendors will be raising money this weekend in Denver to promote awareness and end human trafficking both locally and globally.
January is also Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
According to justice.gov, The United States Department of Justice defines human trafficking as “the act of compelling or coercing a person’s labor, services or commercial sex acts.”
For small business owner, vendor and event organizer April Tucker, the topic has become a personal passion.
She believed many individuals in the community stay ignorant of the local impact of sex trafficking.
“It happens here in the United States, not just in ‘other’ places,” she said.
Tucker revealed she learned more about the pandemic that many have come to call modern-day slavery after reading online data and watching two documentaries on the issue last year.
“My eyes were opened,” she said.
A friend’s comment also sparked her interest in researching sex trafficking.
“A friend of mine commented that her adopted daughter from India could have most likely been a victim of sex slavery had they not adopted her,” Tucker said. “It broke my heart and mortified me that this actually happens.”
With the help of the Women’s Ministry at Harvest Cove Community Church in Denver, Tucker established the area’s first annual Winter Vendor Fair.
The event will be held 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the church, located at 3618 N.C. 16, across from Rock Springs Elementary School.
All vendor fees and funds collected from concessions will go to assist Charlotte’s OEW Hope House.
“By donating to OEWM,” Tucker said, “we know we are taking part in the prevention, awareness and healing services they provide.”
Established in 2009 through On Eagles Wings Ministries (OEWM), based in Asheville, the facility helps domestic minor victims of sex trafficking, according to its website, hopehousenc.com.
The nonprofit particularly works with female survivors ages 12-21 “with the goal to restore…and empower them to make healthy choices,” Tucker said.
In 2012, OEW Hope House received ample recognition for its efforts, receiving the “Good Samaritan Award” from the Trafficking in America Task Force and the “FBI Director Community Leadership Award.”
The Governor’s office even asked the nonprofit to serve on the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission that same year, the site said.
Roughly 30 vendors will be on-hand at Saturday’s event, including local crafters and artists, direct sales reps and local businesses along with products fashioned by local sex trafficking survivors.
OEWM offers survivors a job skills program called Fields of Hope, Tucker said.
She hopes to hold similar events each year and raise funds for a variety of area nonprofits.
“As a small business owner applying to various vendor events,” she said, “I realized how much money these event organizers were making, and I thought that money would go to great use for some cause.”
For more event information, email April Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more on human trafficking, visit oewm.net.
Those who have been victimized by sex trafficking or know of a potential trafficking situation can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888.