BRYAN, TEXAS — A non-profit in the Brazos Valley is using donated and pre-loved items as a part of their mission to help some of the most vulnerable in our community.
Unbound BCS says when they were accepting donations for their new office in Bryan, they received a surplus of items.
That gave them the idea to organize a garage sale, their first-ever, to help raise awareness and funds for their organization.
When the group organizes an event, big or small, they use the opportunity to share that human trafficking is happening right here.
"We have received a really incredible response from it. I think people feel safe. It's outside. Everyone is wearing a mask. Everything is all spread out. We have sold most of our big pieces. We have just little things left. We are excited about the success of it," Katie Humphreys, Director of Operations at Unbound BCS, said about the garage sale.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demands for their services, funds, on the other hand, have decreased.
Something as small as a Saturday afternoon garage sale actually goes a long way in the fight against the crime.
"We operate off of the generosity of our public and just that people think that we should be here and they help us do that by giving their funds, their time, or their talents," Humphreys added.
The organization helps spread awareness about what they do by giving out both English and Spanish pamphlets, providing the human trafficking hotline and supplying customers with resources.
"We actually helped 18 human trafficking victims identified right here in the Brazos Valley, just last year alone. We are still working with many of those and we think the numbers are going to be even higher this year. So if people don't think it's happening here, I don't think you can argue with those numbers," Humphreys added.
Elizabeth Schmidt, a Brazos County resident, supports the work Unbound does in our community and pitches in where she can, including the garage sale Saturday.
"Because it's such a great cause and what they do is amazing. People don't realize that it is happening in our backyard. Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not happening," Schmidt added.
The organization says money and donations are both needed to meet trafficking victims where they are and to provide immediate support and advocacy.
Any events they can have during this time is crucial in their fight against the heinous acts.
"It takes money to hire staff to do these trainings. It takes money to print things. It takes money to meet people at the hotel rooms when the police recover them and we go to the rooms and give them a victim response bag," Humphreys added.
"Its a billion-dollar business...It's bigger than drugs...So let's stop it. We can do this. We can stop it," Schmidt said.
The organization says if you do not know human trafficking is happening, let alone happening in an area where you live, you are not going to look out for it and may not make reports.
In 2020 alone they were able train over 2,000 people with human trafficking awareness material and educated over 170 businesses.
They hope to make an even greater impact this year.
Unbound's large fund-raising event 'A Night of Hope' was canceled last year freshly into the pandemic, but this year they are able to have their event which resources the local community and supports survivors of human trafficking.
'A Night of Hope' is scheduled for March 26th at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center in College Station.