Did you know that there are over 600,000 children under the age of 18 involved in prostitution? Or that 12 is the average age girls enter the forced sex trade? How about the fact that as many as 2.8 million children live on the streets, and 1 out of every 3 will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. These are all statistics that Darren and I learned while attending our first fundraiser for Veronica’s Voice. We also learned that, as a nation, we are seriously lacking programs that offer the protection and rehabilitation women need when they escape this lifestyle.
Today’s blog post is quite different from the ones I usually write, but it is something that has been on my heart to share with you all for some time. After being invited to help launch #GivingTuesday, and link up with other Kansas City bloggers to share ways to give back this holiday season, I knew that the time had come. What is #GivingTuesday™? According to their website, “#GivingTuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.” Pretty cool, right?
When Darren and I became parents, we made a conscious decision to be intentional about teaching our girls to serve others. As babies, they helped us serve Thanksgiving dinner in Los Angeles while strapped to our backs. Last year, they helped us throw birthday parties for preschoolers staying in Hillcrest Transitional Housing. This year, we’ve decided to collect coats and jeans for women trying to recover from the wounds of prostitution, and to raise funds that Veronica’s Voice can use to purchase Christmas gifts for some of these ladies’ children. According to their outreach director, jeans, coats, and holiday gifts are the items they currently need the most.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine going through a midwest winter without a coat and a pair of jeans. I also know that these can be some of the most difficult items to give away. After hearing what some of the Veronica’s Voice girls shared about how blessed they’ve been by this organization, I knew it was time to give up the jeans that “might fit again some day” and the coats collecting dust in the storage closet “just in case”. Here is what some of these ladies had to say…
“Veronica’s Voice means a new life for me. I never have to turn tricks again. I never have to drink or drug again. I am still pretty new to the sisterhood, but I hope I will learn how to think more positively of myself.”
“I love coming here because as soon as I step in the van, I am surrounded by love. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing actual love without abuse.”
“To me, Veronica’s Voice means my safety, my home, my heart, my tears I shed. They help me through my ups and downs. I am a survivor of life thanks to Veronica’s Voice.”
“What Veronica’s Voice means to me is a new chance, new friends, new lifestyle, and a new hope for my future.”
“I love Veronica’s Voice. They let us process and talk about anything and everything without being judged.”
“Veronica’s Voice has been my friend, home, love. They show me how to take care of me and how to forgive myself.”
Those are some powerful words. Our family’s goal over the next two weeks is to unite our community and collect over 100 coats and pairs of jeans for these women. We also want to raise as much money as we can for their Christmas gift fund. However, this is not something we can do alone. We need your help and this is what we are asking…
If you live in the Kansas City area and have items you would like to donate, please email me today (email@example.com). It doesn’t matter if we’ve met only once, if we’re old friends, or if our connection is solely through this blog. If you have gently used women’s coats and jeans, I will find a way to connect this holiday season. If you would like to reach out to your network, collecting coats and jeans as well, I’d be tickled pink!
To the rest of the Healthnut Foodie community, I am excited to announce that we will be launching a virtual Veronica’s Voice Pampered Chef’s party tomorrow. For every holiday gift , stocking stuffer, or kitchen addition that you order through this event, my Pampered Chef consultant will donate 50% of her commissions directly to the Veronica’s Voice holiday gift fund. There is no ceiling to the amount she will give, so start working on your wish list today!
I will be adding the link to the fundraiser, showcasing some of my favorite Pampered Chef’s products, and sharing a tasty recipe from a Pampered Chef’s cookbook on #GivingTuesday tomorrow. (The recipe is “wrapped up in a coat”…any guesses?) The fundraiser will stay open for two weeks, and all orders will arrive in plenty of time for gift-giving. For those of you on social media, please share the link via Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #GivingTuesday.
Last but certainly not least, you are also welcome to donate goods or money directly to Veronica’s Voice. They are a 501(c)(3) Organization, so all donations are tax deductible. The mailing address is VERONICA’S Voice, PO Box 172472, Kansas City, KS 66117, or you can make a donation online.
Friends, I want to thank you all in advance for the support you will be giving these courageous women. Forced prostitution and human sex trafficking is out of control in America. Over 90% of these women are under the control of a pimp, and a national study shows that 75% of all women used in prostitution were victims of incest and/or physical abuse as children. It is also estimated that a prostituted woman is raped 19 times, kidnapped 10 times, and beaten repeatedly each year. It is time that we open our eyes and do all we can to help these victims break free from their chains.
(Sources for the statistics shared can be found here.)
To learn about other Kansas City charities and how you can make the season brighter for others, visit these great blogs:
Everyday Truth — Bear Hugs
it’s me, debcb! — Safehome
Back to Allen — The Children’s Place
Whatcha Makin Now — Wayside Waifs
Soleful Suitcases — KC Rescue Mission
Wayward Dogs — Midwest Adopt-a-Bull
Sarah Scoop — Big Brothers, Big Sisters
Laughing Cat Creations — Turning Point
Blogchickabowow — Jewish Family Services
Healthnut Foodie — Veronica’s Voice
Raising the Barrs — Hillcrest Transitional Housing
KC Edventures — Toys for Tots & Children’s Mercy
The Happy Family Movement — Rose Brooks Women’s Center