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Two Mid-South organizations team up for Human Trafficking Awareness Month

“At the end of the day, it is discouraging to know that that number is likely higher," said Rachel Haaga, Restore Corps.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. During a pandemic, the effort to stop human trafficking is especially important. 

Local 24 News Reporter, Brittani Moncrease, checked back in with a local organization finding solutions to the problem. 

Newton's third law says "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

Last year's pandemic shutdown, made the fight against human trafficking more challenging. Rachel Haaga runs Restore Corps, a non-profit focused on ending human trafficking. 

“Each of our three main regional points of contact across our state saw less referrals than years previous. This year overlapped and we do think that’s a result of the pandemic,” said Haaga, Restore Corps Founder and Executive Director.  

The organization ended the year with 100 referrals. 

“At the end of the day, it is discouraging to know that that number is likely higher. Yet, we also understand the reality of why we have the restrictions that we do,” said Haaga.

When it comes to human trafficking, people often think it's just sexual, but there's also forced labour, slavery, and other forms of exploitation.  

“Because of the pandemic, we don’t have those opportunities to notice red flags as first responders,” said Haaga. 

Restore Corps teamed up with SoGiv, a local shoe company helping non-profits. 

“We are celebrating 10 years of SoGiv this month. We wanted to kick things off appropriately with an amazing organization,” said Edward Bogard, SoGiv Founder and Philanthropic Designer. 

Bogard designed a shoe based on a canvas by local artist, Amy Hutcheson. 

The proceeds for each shoe goes to Restore Corps this month.

“At first glance, it’s a conversation starter. With each pair sold, you’re eradicating human trafficking. You’re providing shelter for someone at Restore Corps,” said Bogard.   

“That cost of that survivor entails a daily night. That entails the therapy that we offer. That entails the food, shelter, transportation,” said Haaga. 

So, step by step...  

“You’re walking in change. That’s beautiful,” said Bogard.

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