More than five years ago, Linda Bressler and Steve Chervin attended a program at Ahavath Achim Synagogue dealing with the child sex trafficking problem in Atlanta.
“Once we became aware of the magnitude of this modern-day slavery, we knew we could not stand by silently and thus established AAACTS, Action and Awareness to Abolish Child Trafficking for Sex,” said Bressler, group co-chair. “Our mission is to be a leading force in the eradication of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) through awareness, action and advocacy.”
Working with law enforcement, nonprofits, other faith-based communities and social justice organizations, the group is gearing up to attack DMST during the upcoming Super Bowl through an event called SOAP Up Atlanta.
SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) is a hands-on outreach to fight sex trafficking at large events and in communities. It was founded by author, advocate and survivor Theresa Flores, who was auctioned off to nearly two dozen men in a dirty, inner-city Detroit motel. Theresa recalled the only item that would have reached out to her, a bar of soap. With that in mind, she created SOAP to help reach out to other victims.
On Jan. 27, Atlanta volunteers will label 20,000 bars of hand soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline 800-number. They will be trained on how to label the soap and approach hotels in the area surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to educate the hotel staff how to identify and report sex trafficking when they see it.
In the afternoon, groups of four will deliver the soap to four designated hotels each. A light breakfast and lunch will be served during the event hosted by Ahavath Achim from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and sponsored by AAACTS and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Commission on DMST.
SOAP National travels around the U.S. conducting outreach projects during high-demand events such as the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and Indy 500. It partners with local organizations to distribute to high-risk motels millions of bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number and educational resources.
During past SOAP outreach events, at least 83 percent of all hotels accepted the labeled soap. Generally, at least one missing child is identified by hotel staff during each outreach, according to the SOAP Project website.
Polaris Project, the nonprofit that runs the hotline, reported that calls double the week SOAP conducts an outreach event.
The SOAP Project educates and increases awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking in order to restore trafficked survivors and to prevent teens from being victimized by DMST, according to its website.
“Soap Up Atlanta is open to all who want to help make Atlanta a safer place for our children,” Bressler said. She, co-chair Margie Eden and their committee conduct awareness training, action-oriented programs and advocacy throughout the year.
To participate in SOAP UP Atlanta, sign up at www.give.classy.org/soapsuperbowlatl. For more information, contact AAACTS co-chairs Linda Bressler, email@example.com, or Margie Eden, firstname.lastname@example.org