Written by Bridget Battistoni
on December 20, 2014
Tonight, hundreds of children and thousands of women are being exploited for commercial sex in our city. Night after night, in hotel rooms, in area homes, and in cars parked along our city streets, girls and young women are raped for profit.
With the growing awareness around anti trafficking efforts, it’s likely you’ve heard these staggering numbers before. I know familiarity can often lead to numbness, but I urge you to imagine their names, faces, and the horrendous violence they endure. I ask you to do this, because I want to provoke you to action.
I’m asking you to give.
I know many of you already have already given. I’m asking you to give again. I’m asking you to share in, to bear, a small fraction of the pain our clients experience for two reasons:
Give for your sake. By occasionally inviting painful sacrifice into our lives, we assault our self-absorption, our bloated sense of independence and our relentless consumerism.
Americans will spend 465 billion this Christmas on gifts this year (1); the majority of dollars spent will make no lasting difference in the lives of those we give to, but instead will offer only a temporary and illusive satisfaction. Even St. Nicholas, the predecessor of Santa Clause, knew this to be true. As the story goes, Nicholas was born to a wealthy family in modern-day Turkey. After his parents died, he inherited a large sum of money. He kept none of it. Instead, he threw bags of gold through the windows of three girls about to be forced into lives of prostitution. Christmas is about self-sacrifice.
It was for St. Nick, and it was for Jesus.
Give for their sake. Exploitation is the opposite of generosity; it’s theft. Human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion dollars per year globally.(2) It’s theft on a global scale. Several years ago, thieves ransacked a Salvation Army’s warehouse and stole over 2,000 pounds of food ready to be distributed to some of the poorest people in our region. Members of the community were so outraged they committed to replace everything stolen. Within two weeks of the break-in, more than 11 tons – 21,500 pounds, 10 times the amount of food lost – had been donated back. The community’s action not only restored what was lost, but declared to the would-be recipients, “You matter. You’re not alone. Thieves will not have the last word about how our community operates.” Powerful.
We also have a restorative aim, and we need your help. Currently, our region needs immediate, emergency housing for those seeking to leave the life of prostitution behind. We hear this again and again from other service providers, from police agencies, and from our clients who want to leave but have no place to go. REST has been in the planning stages of opening a 24-hour Emergency Receiving Center, but we need an extraordinary act of sacrificial generosity to make it possible. Would you help us raise the remaining $25,000 we need for this coming year to open our doors?
“Giving is a miracle that can transform the heaviest of hearts. Two people, who moments before lived in separate worlds of private concerns, suddenly meet each other over a simple act of sharing. The world expands, a moment of goodness is created, and something new comes into being where before there was nothing. . . . But true giving is not an economic exchange; it is a generative act. It does not subtract from what we have; it multiples the effect we can have in the world.” -Kent Nerburn, Simple Truths