Freedom 4/24 Holds ‘Shop to End Human Trafficking’ at La Vida Coffee Shop

At this very moment, men, women and children all over the world are being trafficked and exploited. The issue of human trafficking is not only a prevalent societal evil, but it is also a crime that is rampantly growing larger and larger by the second. Freedom 4/24, an organization based in Lynchburg, has a mission to help put an end to the sexual exploitation and trafficking of human lives. 

What originally started in 2014 as the dream of 19-year-old Liberty University student Christine Gelatt, Freedom 4/24 was established to help fight against the exploitation of trafficked women in the shady districts of Bangkok, Thailand. From there, the organization grew to the level of impacting several other countries such as India and Uganda. Freedom 4/24 also works in several domestic locations, including California and Tennessee. 

Since Freedom 4/24 works in anti-human trafficking prevention education, they partner with other organizations internationally to provide direct assistance to women in need. In order to help fund these international partners, Freedom 4/24 works to fundraise by holding various events around the country. 

Rachel Smith, the programs manager at Freedom 4/24, said that one of the many events the organization holds is a 5K race. 

“We currently have them now [5K races] — in Lynchburg, Glendora, California and Knoxville, Tennessee,” Smith said. “And these races serve to not only raise funding, but to raise awareness about the issue and bring the community together, to stand up to say that our community is going to fight this.”

At the event, booths were set up, selling handmade jewelry and accessories to specialty bags and mugs. Photo by Lauren Bergeson.

Recently, La Vida Coffee Shop held an event hosted by Freedom 4/24. The Freedom Market was a pop-up shop intended to raise funds for New Hope Girls, an organization dedicated to helping women and children rescued from trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Eleven vendors were present at the event and set up in a circle around the room, selling items such as hand-painted jewelry, dog treats, clay earrings, face masks, ceramic creations, handmade skin care products and other handcrafted goods. A portion of the sales from the local vendors went to support the 4/24 mission.

According to Smith, events held by Freedom 4/24 are an essential part of its mission to end human trafficking, and partnering organizations (both international and domestic) benefit from the funds raised. 

“We have six domestic partners in the United States. Some of our partners are the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Free Hope is also an organization in Knoxville, Tennessee,” Smith said. “Free Hope works a lot, as well, on prevention education, and they’re also preparing to open a safe home for trafficked minors. And then the Community Coalition — they also work on education and … provide direct services for adult survivors of trafficking through emergency care shelter, social services and legal services.”

A great deal of the work done in Lynchburg to help victims of trafficking all over the world is thanks to the funds raised at Freedom 4/24 events. 

If you are interested in becoming an ally to help put an end to human trafficking, go to the website, click on the “fight with us” tab at the top of the page and then click “4/24 Ally” in the drop down menu. 

Gambino is a news reporter.

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