One local church is doing its part to raise awareness about and eliminate human trafficking. Joseph Baptist Church, pastored by Steve Bartlow, held its second annual music and pie auction fundraiser for A21, a Christian group dedicated to fighting human trafficking, most of which involves women and children as sex slaves.
About 50 people packed into the church on Friday, Aug. 16 to hear about a half dozen musicians play four songs each as well as to bid in a tasty auction of about 20 pies and buy raffle tickets for an exquisitely crafted quilt.
Performing musicians included the Brann Family, Sandi and Larry Richardson, the church worship team, Caleb and Ariana Samples and another performer.
Pies sold briskly between upbeat music sets, as did raffle tickets for the quilt. In the end, the benefit raised more than $3000 for A21. The church kept none of the proceeds.
According to church pastor, Steve Bartlow, the benefit netted the most fundraising yet for A21. The pastor said that the church got involved with A21 when they felt the Lord calling them to get more involved with those who had been trafficked.
After researching several organization, the church chose A21 because of their approach to rescuing traffic victims. The organization provides housing to victims as well as medical and emotional care.
“Not only are they helping them emotionally and physically, with doctors’ care, but they teach job skills so they’re less vulnerable to traffickers, who often lure them with false promises of lucrative work,” Bartlow said.
A21 also helps prosecutors in foreign countries, such as Greece, with legal aid and even provides education to vulnerable populations to help them recognize and avoid trafficking traps. ECCLA, a watchdog group, gave A21 high marks for its financial accountability.
Bartlow said the switch from yard sale to music and pie auction has paid off in spades as far as funds raised and fellowship.
“We’ve been really happy about that,” Bartlow said. “I think it’s nice to invite the community to come together. In this setup, we get to meet everyone and have fun together. It’s much more social, and it feels like a community event.”