KAYSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Over the last three weeks the Kaysville community has come together to raise funds for Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking.
“Three weeks ago I heard about this and it’s real, and it’s here, and absolutely! I just want to be apart of it and I just want to help, so I’m excited to be here,” said Danna Ferguson.
While Davis High School Senior, Kenzie Dickey added, “It’s such a neat opportunity for us to become something a lot bigger than we really are, and I think it was just a way for us to make a difference in a way we never thought we could.”
This evening the community gathered for the O.U.R. Kaysville Fundraiser. Food trucks, a live band, and tons of merchandise were on hand to kick off the event. Together with Operation Underground Railroad and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, community members hoped to raise enough money to fund an upcoming covert sting operation to rescue children of this crime.
Project Underground Railroad is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating victims of child sex trafficking. Globally, there are an estimated 2 million children caught up in the middle of sex trafficking and are being exploited in this $32 million illegal industry.
“Every person that’s here contributing. We will save children, this is how it’s done. With support like this it enables us to go in and rescue children that are stuck in child sex slavery rings,” says Radd Barrett, a member of the Jump Team for Operation Underground Railroad.
For these kids taking part in this fundraiser, it means so much more to them. As this crime affects children in their age group.
Jacquie Jones, an event planner says many people don’t realize that sex trafficking exists, let alone that it exists here in Utah, and the kids who are helping out hope to educate more people on the topic.
“These kids, not only are they all in, they want to tell other people so they can create a safety, and maybe an awareness about that,” she says.
“When we start telling people about it they fell like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is scary, but this is incredible. I’m glad you’re doing this,” says Dickey.
Throughout the three weeks several student organizations and corporate sponsors set up events to raise the funds. Earlier this afternoon, the Davis High School Women’s Soccer Team – ranked 6th in the nation – held a soccer camp for kids, to help fundraise. Tomorrow, Dickey and several of her friends will be holding a yard sale and raffle to encourage more community members to attend and donate to the cause.
The O.U.R. fundraiser set out to raise $50,000 dollars to fund one sting operation. Prior to the kick off of tonights event, they had over $40,000. A number that shocked, Kenzie Dickey.
“Over $40,000?” she asked.
As Jacquie Jones, reassured her of the figures.
“Oh my goodness, Holy! We’ll, over 40$,000,” she says with a smile and a laugh.
The community was also took part in a presentation by Attorney General Sean Reyes and O.U.R. founder Tim Ballard that went into details about the organizations use of cutting-edge technology and human intelligence to free enslaved children.
The community has provided so much overwhelming support for the cause, it appears they will be able to raise thousands more before the fundraiser is over. With the possibility to raise enough money to set up two sting operations.
If the funds are secured the O.U.R will finalize plans for a raid in South America within the next few months and give more victims a second chance at life.