Rescuing human trafficking victims
Updated On: Dec 06 2013 11:56:05 PM CST
A local retail owner is helping victims of human trafficking.
He owns two shops in Colorado Springs and donates part of his profit to a charity based here in Southern Colorado. The non-profit rescues boys and girls around the world who are forced to have sex in brothels. Customers of the stores are making a difference.
Jeremy Bitner owns Seven Status at the Citadel Mall and Excess Threads on Nevada Avenue. His store’s mission: to buy and sell used clothes. His personal mission: to donate 20 percent of his profits to victims of human trafficking.
"We're doing something to help make a dent in this disgusting evil," said Bitner.
He's made raising awareness for human trafficking a part of his job.
"There's all kinds of different wonderful types of things that people are raising money, but this is not one of them that's near on the radar," said Bitner.
Donations from Seven Status go to The Exodus Road: a non-profit to find brothels and rescue victims. The company was founded in Southern Colorado.
"That's very disruptive to know that children are being abused near your home and no one's doing anything about that,” said The Exodus Road Founder Matt Parker.
Parker has been part of the raids himself.
"Getting out of that car to walk inside the brothel your heart's beating. I'm not really sure what to expect all the time,” he said.
His company has now rescued 250 victims of sex trafficking. Rocks in the office remind Parker and his staff that there are real children coming out of slavery, he said.
Each rock symbolizes each child saved with a name, date and location of the rescue.
“[The rocks] remind us that we're making a real difference in the lives of these kids,” said Parker.
Those who donate see where their money goes. By signing up for text messages, they're connected directly with raid teams.
For instance, you could get a series of texts that say: “Indian rescue is moving in - in 24 hours.” “They're two hours away from the raid.” “The raid is commencing now.”
"It's like you're on the ground with them,” said Bitner.
So when you pull out your pocketbook at Seven Status, you're buying more than a pair of jeans.
"I had no idea that there would be a cause like this and it makes your money well spent,” said customer Leah Darling.
“It's a great feeling to know you're part of something bigger than yourself,” said Bitner.
Two weeks ago, The Exodus Road rescued 57 girls at a brothel in Mumbai, India. If you'd like more information about their mission, click here.
For more on Seven Status, click here.
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