COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Youths from various Columbus organizations are joining forces in the month of October for a fundraiser to fight against the sexual exploitation of minors in their community.
The Fall Festival, organized by a senior at Calvary Christian School was held Sunday evening at Columbus First Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
"People always think that maybe it's older people getting involved, or other countries, like third world countries, but in reality even here in Columbus, it's sex trafficking, it's so easy to get involved, it's closer than we all think," said organizer, Shelbe Johnson.
The event benefits an organization called Micah's Promise, which seeks to free children from sex trafficking and to provide services that will help them live empowered and purposeful lives.
"They're actually trying to build this house to house some of the girls trying to get out of the lifestyle, that just sounded like something we really wanted to work with," said Johnson.
Human sex trafficking is slowly becoming one of the fastest growing organized crime businesses in the world.
"There were 469 children last year in the state of Georgia that was identified as sex trafficking victims, and the average age of them was 14," said Bobbi Starr, Executive Director of Micah's Promise.
Often an unspoken topic, the non-profit organization attempting to make a difference, before it's too late.
"We want to educate the kids to understand what grooming is, what manipulation is, how to spot if someone is attempting to build trust with them to them manipulate them and use them," said Starr.
The Fall Festival featured a bounce house, dunk tank, photo booth, carnival games, and competitive sports.
"The Fall Festival is a fun way to really make a difference in the community," said Shelbe Johnson, the senior at Calvary Christian School organizing the event. "Micah's Promise is a worthy cause. We hope others in the community will come out and support our endeavor."
Proceeds from the event will help Micah's Promise build a restoration home for girls trying to escape such exploitation.
The project will cost $1 million, and the organization has already raised $300,000.