RUSSELL, Pa. – The COVID-19 pandemic has had more than its share of negative impacts, but it couldn’t quell people’s desire to help save children from human trafficking.
(Photo submitted. Restoring Hope Event Coordinator Anne VanHouten from Praise Fellowship presents ARC’s Thad Turner with funds raised at the dinner to fight human trafficking.)
The money raised will be split between the Association for the Recovery of Children and Rescuing Lives, two organizations that help rescue women and children from trafficking.
VanHouten started Restoring Hope four years ago as a way to help the local community get involved in the fight against trafficking.
“(The idea was) maybe we’re not equipped to do anything right this second but we can fundraise and help the people who are doing it to get ourselves in the fight,” VanHouten told yourdailylocal.com in an interview this summer.
The event has increased donations every year.
“We started at I think $16,000, then $27,000 and last year was $42,000,” VanHouten said.
ARC and Rescuing Lives will each get a share of the funds raised. ARC, an organization made up of former and active military special operators, intelligence officers and law enforcement officers, rescues American children being held in the U.S. and overseas.
“The partnership we have with ARC is really cool because it’s a real-life Rambo,” Praise Fellowship pastor Rick Rohlin told yourdailylocal.com in an interview over the summer.
Rescuing Lives helps women and children escape trafficking situations in India. Once rescued, Rescuing Lives offers training, education and resources to help them live on their own.
“They have a center where they put these women through the program, so they get restoration,” VanHouten said. “And then they also are taught a skill. So primarily what they use right now is sewing. And so though, they’ll go through a six-month program, and when they graduate from it, they come out with a self-sustainable business. So they take their sewing machine and everything that they need with them. And they go and open a business and therefore they have a way to support themselves that they don’t need to get into these situations.”
It costs approximately $500 to send one person through the program.
“We keep an account and every time it hits $500, I call and say, ‘You can let somebody enter the program’,” VanHouten said. “We’ve been able to rescue over 100 women and girls that way.”
Multiple churches, businesses and organizations participated in the Restoring Hope event on Nov. 6. Restoring Hope and Praise Fellowship would like to thank everyone in the community who helped make this evening possible.