HTH: Southern Grit Advocacy needs volunteers to help take a stand against human trafficking

Helping the Helpers

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In late 2019, Southern Grit Advocacy was birthed as concerns of human trafficking grew in the North Texas area.

The goal of the nonprofit organization is to prevent, disrupt, and end human trafficking through education and advocacy but the nonprofit leaders said not too long after they hit the ground running, COVID-19 slowed that plan down.

Cara Sauceda, director of programs at the Boys and Girls Club said she believes Southern Grit Advocacy is vital to our community as it provides age-appropriate programming for children on how to protect themselves.

“They were able to present the needed and necessary programmatic materials to educate our children on personal safety about being aware of their surroundings and the dangers of trafficking,” Sauceda said.

Victims of human trafficking estimate at more than 300,000 in Texas, about 79,000 of which are minors and youth.

Sauceda said this nonprofit brings awareness to an issue she doesn’t believe many people pay attention to enough in our area.

“Much of the community is not aware of the extremely high risk that North Texas presents to youth with trafficking issues,” Sauceda said. “We have seven of the highest risk factors here in North Texas, one being living in or near a border town, we are within 30 miles of a men’s state prison, we are near military bases, we have truck stops near us.”

Executive director of the organization hoping to increase advocacy for survivors, Vicky Payne, said 2020 had a lot of highs and lows.

Payne said they spent a lot of time drafting and adopting policy but fundraising took a backseat.

“We were disappointed that we couldn’t really connect with the people, but what we did do, is we championed prevention education in texas public schools,” Payne said.

Payne said they only have a handful of volunteers which has affected their ability to do outreach and so, both Payne and Sauceda ask community members to get involved with this nonprofit.

“If the community cares about the health and welfare of our children, then they should also care about these programs that protect our children,” Sauceda said.

Follow these links if you would like to volunteer with the nonprofit or donate.

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