Breakfast fundraiser helps bring awareness to human trafficking

Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 5:54 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Pancakes and bacon served at the Eau Claire Elks Lodge this morning had a greater purpose than just filling up hungry stomachs. The Elks, a national organization that promotes and invests in the well-being of their communities, recognized Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a breakfast fundraiser.

Liz Kaas, an Elks member, said the event is one way the community is fighting against human trafficking.

“It is for the prevention and fighting of women and young people that are being exploited into sexual activities that they just don’t understand. And it’s a very persuasive group of people that are doing this, and we are definitely fighting against it,” Kaas said.

Proceeds from the breakfast will go to Fierce Freedom. Joyce Orth, community engagement specialist at Fierce Freedom, said the local nonprofit is working to bring awareness to and prevent the illegal practice of human trafficking.

“Fierce Freedom works to end the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation. We do that through educational programing that empowers community, and it speaks to the worth and dignity of individuals,” Orth said.

The fundraiser was a success thanks to the many community member who came out to support the cause.

“We’ve had a lovely turnout today. We served a lot and we’ve had a couple of extra trips to the grocery store as we’ve been running out of food so that’s a good thing,” Kaas said.

With the help from the Elks, Fierce Freedom is looking to create new educational programs in the area.

“One of the things that we’re hoping to build out is specific programing for at risk youth. We really feel like the community would be better served if it was our own curriculum and community specific,” Orth said.

Orth said that human trafficking often looks different than what most people imagine, which is why bringing attention to the issue is so important.

“It’s kind of something that happens behind the scenes, so people really are not aware of it. It happens digitally on people’s phones, people are groomed and coerced, manipulated, and it’s not something that you see as you’re passing by on the street,” Orth said.

In addition to this event, the Eau Claire Elks is planning to hold more breakfast fundraisers for other local organizations throughout the year.

Fierce Freedom will also be holding it’s own annual fundraiser, “The Night of Freedom and Hope”, in March. To learn more about the organization’s programming, visit Fierce Freedom’s website.