WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Since 2007, the Human Trafficking Hotline has received more than 82,000 reports, leading to the identification of more than 164,000 victims.

But, thanks to non-profits like Southern Grit Advocacy, which has partnered with us here at KFDX in hopes of reaching the masses, more and more students and adults are getting the tools to identify human trafficking.

In Monday morning’s Wichita County Commissioners meeting, officials with Southern Grit were given the green light to apply for a federal grant that could go towards educating and raising awareness on this growing issue throughout Texoma.

Since 2019, Executive Director for Southern Grit Vickie Payne has been spreading the word and raising awareness on the dangers of human trafficking.

“2021 we just put our boots to the ground, our Texas boots to the ground and started implementing prevention education for k through 12 whereas in awareness for adults, and co-hosting or hosting training for professionals,” Payne said.

Payne has been traveling to different schools and places of business to educate the public on human trafficking, and after partnering with local media and county commissioners, Payne may receive some much-needed federal funding.

“It’s getting to be a bigger and bigger problem and so we thought that this is one way working with some community partners to help educate more folks and to help build awareness around it so that we can reduce those numbers and save the lives of people and especially children,” Wichita County Judge Jim Johnson said.

Payne said she hopes this new partnership will ultimately get other businesses on board to help combat this international problem.

“Not one organization, no government can attack this issue on their own. We have to partner together and were a ‘can-do’ attitude and KFDX is a ‘can-do’ attitude and we really appreciate it but no you can’t accomplish anything in a silo,” Payne said.

Creating more protectors out in public to help watch and prevent the vulnerable from being attacked.

In continuing efforts to combat human trafficking, the True North Anti-trafficking Coalition was formed and Payne said they are still accepting new members who will have the chance to attend a variety of workshops.

Click here to register.