Thousands of people are expected in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53 and volunteers can help S.O.A.P. Up Atlanta on Jan. 24 to 26 in preparation for the big games seamier side – sex trafficking.
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is working with author, advocate and survivor Theresa Flores who is the founder of S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) to offer a way out for victims of sex trafficking who will brought to Atlanta for the Super Bowl Llll game between the American Football Conference champion New England Patriots and the National Football Conference champion Los Angeles Rams to determine the National Football League 2018 season champion.
Over the three days, S.O.A.P up Atlanta volunteers will label and deliver hundreds of soaps to more than 400 Atlanta hotels and motels.
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta says human trafficking is the second leading crime in the United States, and that Atlanta is one of the top cities for sex trafficking of children.
The average age of a trafficked female is 12 to 14 years old.
Flores, who was trafficked when she was 15 years old, will be in Atlanta for the S.O.A.P. Project – Preventing Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl.
She says human trafficking is happening in every ZIP code and mostly to children.
She became a victim in her sophomore year in high school when a guy she had a crush on offered her ride home.
“I was so naïve, I really thought he was going to take me home,” she said.
Instead, she was drugged and raped and he took compromising photos of her and told her she would have to earn them back.
“All around the Detroit area I would service anywhere from four to 10 men,” she said in a video posted on www.soapproject.org. “My worse night was being left for dead in a Detroit motel. I thought it was the end of the road. It was really a miracle I got saved out of that.”
She went on to launch “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution” Project – an a hands-on outreach to fight sex trafficking at large events and in communities. It is focused on educating and increasing public awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking to help restore trafficked survivors and to prevent teens from being victimized by domestic and minor sex trafficking.
S.O.A.P. travels across the country to big events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Indy 500 and others.
It partners with local organizations to distribute millions of bars of soap wrapped with a red band with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number — 888-3737-888 — and resources, to high-risk motel.
S.O.A.P Project’s Jennifer Dunaway says the bathroom is often the one place that the victim might be able to be alone, which is why the contact information on these bars of soap is so important.
She says that while Flores speaks openly about her own experience as a victim, she is most proud of sharing the project’s success and the compelling accounts of trafficked minors who have escaped their situation after seeing the bars of soap in their hotel room.
Flores says the S.O.A.P project is important.
“Most survivors don’t know there is a number they can call,” she said.
Cheri, a survivor interviewed in the same video, said the labeled soaps offer a lifeline to victims, and that survivors speak often about how the soap helped them get free.
They say: “I found your soap. I made the call. I am here today because of you.”
Jan. 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers will start out at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 634 West Peachtree Street Northwest in Atlanta. They will label soaps and get training on spotting the signs of human trafficking; deliver the labeled soaps and educational materials to the hotels around Atlanta; and donate money to help make the event possible.
To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/soap-up-atlanta-tickets-45952049818
The dress code is business casual if volunteers plan to communicate with hotel managements.
The diocese says the training is appropriate for children 12 and older and that families are welcome to bring children of all ages to help label the soaps. To visit the hotels with parental permission, children must be 16 or older n.
Donations can be made at www.eventbrite.com/e/soap-up-atlanta-tickets-45952049818, at www.soapproject.org or by sending a check made out to Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta with DMST Commission SOAP on the memo line and mail to 2744 Peachtree NW, Atlanta GA 30305.