“ Change Purses” Support the survivors of Human Trafficking

Published January 8, 2018

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is sponsoring a collection of used purses to benefit Change Purse, a non-profit organization located in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, dedicated to supporting survivors of Human Trafficking.  During the month of January, St. Mark’s will serve as a collection spot for used purses.  By Presidential Proclamation, January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. According to the Department of Homeland Security “we work to combat the heinous crime of human trafficking each day because it robs people of their freedom; it makes our homeland less secure; and it stands in stark contrast to our American values.”  DHS has created a website https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign to help citizens learn how to identify and respond to situations where vulnerable persons may be in danger.

Change Purse will accept all brands and styles of purses as long as they are currently in style and are in new or like new condition. They must be free from stains, odors, or tears and must have minimal signs of use and wear on both the interior and exterior of the purse. If there are any donated purses that are not able to be sold, they will be given to another charitable venue.  The donated purses will be sold at home parties or at Change Purse events. The money raised from the purse sales is given to organizations that provide hope and restoration to women and children who are victims of sexual exploitation.  Three of the faith-based organizations which benefit from the sale of used purse are Shores of Grace, https://shoresofgrace.com/; Exodus Cry, http://exoduscry.com/; and Peace Promisehttp://www.peacepromise.org/

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. There are actually more slaves on the earth today (estimated 27 million) than at any other time in human history (Kevin Bales-Free the Slaves). Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. It is both the fastest growing crime and the 2nd largest organized crime in the world, generating an annual 32 billion dollars (ILO).

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines sex trafficking as involving “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion.” It is estimated that 70% of female victims of human trafficking are trafficked into the commercial sex trade and one million children become victims of the sex trade each year (Polaris Project).

St. Mark’s hosted a seminar on the issue of Sex Trafficking in the fall of 2017.  The Change Purse project came out of discussions about how the church might support those who minister to survivors.  Purses may be dropped off on Sunday mornings or during regular office hours, Tuesday & Friday, 10-1, Wednesday and Thursday, 10-4 at the Church office, 18311 Lappans Road.  Follow signs for the Church office and ring the bell for entry.  For more information about the church and directions call 301-582-0417 or go to the church website:  www.stmarkslappans.org

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