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March 13, 2018 > Garments, backpack donations benefit human trafficking victims

Garments, backpack donations benefit human trafficking victims

Submitted By Steve Kay

In recognition of Human Trafficking month in January, volunteers from Fremont Elks Lodge No 2121 drew attention to the problem of sexual violence and human trafficking in the San Francisco Bay Area by sharing informational brochures and collecting clothing, backpacks and other items to help victims of sexual violence.

The California Bay Area freeways throughout San Francisco, Alameda and Sacramento counties are one of the most active transportation corridors for human trafficking. When a raid is conducted by the Alameda County SheriffÕs Department to rescue victims of human trafficking, the victimsÕ only possessions are often just the clothes on their back. Or, when a victim of sexual assault enters a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) facility for an examination, they often surrender their clothing for forensic evidence. The victims often only have paper examination gowns to wear home.

As part of their effort, Elks Lodge Activities Committee members placed a donation bin in the lobby of their building so that members could donate new clothing to a ÒPack-it-ForwardÓ project spearheaded by the Grateful Garment Project, an organization that strives to help sexually exploited children and other sex trafficking victims. The Activities Committee received an Elks 150th Anniversary Grant to fund this project.

The goal was to fill 25 backpacks by the end of January. Among the items needed to fill the backpacks were sweat pants or pajama bottoms, sweatshirts, sports bras, underwear, T-shirts, socks/booties, flip flops or slip-on sandals, small blankets, and various gift cards.

The Elks Lodge members and community paid it forward by donating seven large boxes filled with new backpacks, clothing and toiletries. This was enough to fill 25 backpacks. The Fremont Elks made a difference by providing these items to help make sexual exploitation victims be as comfortable as possible, and to help restore some of their well-deserved dignity after their traumatic experience.

More information about the Grateful Garments Project is available by visiting their website at

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