Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, and over 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation across the globe.
In fact, trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. This persists, despite the fact international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.
For me this is an ugliness in our world that cannot and should not persist, and over the years I’ve been personally committed to working with and donating to organizations like Love 146, Polaris Project, and Two Wings, whose combined efforts aim to disrupt this global trend of exploitation.
Recently Christine Rodriguez, who I now know through a mutual friend, attended a community impact presentation given by officers of a Los Angeles-based Vice Squad.
Aside from the horrors of trafficking, the officers also shared the lack of resources their unit faces—often not having basic supplies or food for victims.
They mentioned relying on donations and/or paying out of their own pocket and it struck me as incredible saddening, especially considering this is happening in our own city, the average age victims are inducted is only 12-14, and that this is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry.
After the presentation, a few attendees wanted a to figure out a way to help…no matter how small. Thus, this Care Kit Drive came to be.
When a mutual friend reached out to me about Christine’s Care Kit Drive, I knew I wanted to be involved immediately. So with the help and generosity of my girlfriends both here locally and across the country, we tasked ourselves with assembling special kits that we hope can help ease the transition of young women off the street and into rehabilitation programs. Each kit contains some cozy sweatpants, a sweatshirt, warm socks, hygiene and personal care products, and even snacks. It’s the first step in providing safety, comfort and hope in order to break the cycle of exploitation.
I want to honor everyone who contributed to making the Care Kit drive a success. So many women provided their time and labor, others contributed their money, some donated gently used clothing, and many more simply shared our mission to help raise awareness for the cause.
In addition, we had an incredible amount of support from many brands and individuals:
Paul Mitchell donated gorgeous hair care products
Portico donated super soft wash towels
Cabo Chips donated highly addictive snacking chips
Charity Girl Problems donated socks from her #Soctober sock drive
Jeni Elizabeth donated all kinds of warm clothing items
Jen Garcia donated feminine care and hygiene products
Darlene Hopkins donated toothbrush and toothpaste kits
Heather Elaine Perry mailed items all the way from Atlanta to Los Angeles to be included
The Tote Project generously provided their inspiring canvas totes to hold all the donated goodies
A thousand and one boss lady high fives and hugs to: Therese Mascardo, Ilana Schwarzberg, Brooke Marston, Diana Vertiz, Ashley Fontanetta, Sara Fontanetta, Ursulline Okonkwo, Michelle Schwartz, Ang Hauk, Kim Kline
It is a small project, and it won’t solve the greater problem of sexual exploitation, but I do hope that it inspires you to pursue your own thoughts and acts of compassion this holiday season. Never underestimate your ability to impact the world around you even in seemingly small ways; whether it’s paying off a stranger’s layaway tab, fostering a homeless pet until it can be adopted, volunteering to feed someone in need, or providing companionship and support to a veteran or even an elderly member of our society.
Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love.
– Mother Teresa