The Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale recognized a new need in the community last year and we decided to give back in a different way. In 2014, the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale voted, as an organization, to support and increase human trafficking awareness across Broward County and in the community. We found the statistics staggering, which is what motivated us to take action.
According to the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition 2014 data collection, in collaboration with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), 77 percent of child victims are community children (the “kids next door” that live with parents or guardians) and 23 percent are dependent children (children from the foster care system). Our new project, which we call community impact projects in our organization, allows us to educate the community on what human trafficking looks like so that parents, guardians, teachers and other community leaders can effectively spot the signs and identify children and young adults who are or could become victims of human trafficking.
Through our League membership and our partnership with Leadership Broward, we aim to educate ourselves and the community about human trafficking in Broward County, and especially how we can make a difference through educational and marketing materials. Our project development chair, Sandy Kwoka, has served as the liaison between the League and Leadership Broward. Through this partnership, we have created public service announcements, hosted educational presentations with experts on human trafficking and created a human trafficking awareness drive where we invited the community to donate toiletry items for human trafficking victims rescued by the Plantation Police Department.
The response has been overwhelming and we have been so thrilled to collect hundreds of shampoo bottles, soap bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletry items that a victim of human trafficking may need after being rescued. We would especially like to thank the ACAMS team for participating in the collection drive and donating so many items that our local human trafficking victims can use after their rescue. This is just the first of many projects we as a League hope to introduce to the community.
If you ever see a person you may suspect is a victim of human trafficking—in a restaurant, a store, or any other public place—please, do not miss the chance to help someone in need. You can call the National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733). There are hotline specialists available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call and take action for you. You never have to put yourself at risk, but you can help remove the risk of others.
To learn more about the League, get involved or to donate, please visit www.juniorleagueftl.org.