by Sr. Sally Burk. Sr. Sally Burk is the chair of the Southern Ohio Synod WELCA’s anti-sex trafficking committee.
We applied for grant money from Mission Support Committee to help combat sex trafficking. The grant money is being held for our use by the Synod and will be distributed when there is a need to fund programs, training, and billboards. One major project that we are participating in is the purchase and placement of mousepads on hotel registration desks.
In March, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic comes to Columbus, Ohio. According to a post by the Columbus CBS affiliate in 2013, the Arnold Classic brings $42 million and 18,000 people to Columbus. It is promoted as one of the world’s most professional bodybuilding competitions. It is also an event that girls will be trafficked into Columbus for.
Men who attend the Arnold Classic know how to contact the pimps who are handling these girls. Some of the girls are as young as 12 years old. The meetings between the girls, pimps, and attendees of the Arnold Classic take place in hotels.
Theresa Flores, the founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P), developed a plan to try to reach the girls that are trafficked into Columbus for the Arnold Classic. S.O.A.P. volunteers will place mousepads on hotel registration desks. These pads will provide information on trafficking and give a phone number that girls can call for help. The volunteers will also place bars of soap in hotel bathrooms that have the same phone number on them. The number is for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The volunteers will also take posters of missing children to give to the hotel staff. At one hotel the clerk recognized a picture of a missing child. The clerk told the volunteer that the girl and her friend checked in the day before. The police were notified and the girl was rescued. The police had been searching for this pimp.
Many hotels in the greater Columbus area have agreed to place the pads on the desk where hotel guest register and place the soap in the bathrooms.
Because of the Community’s most generous grant, many innocent young girls may be saved!