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Family Outdoor Expo brings awareness of human trafficking to town
Money raised at free event to help nonprofits
Larry Ledford works on a portrait of Benjamin Franklin last year during the Family Outdoor Expo at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. The expo will occur Saturday at the same locale.

Family Outdoor Expo

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 11

Where: Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, 1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville

Cost: Free

More info: 2015 Family Outdoor Expo Facebook page

Nationally renowned artists have put brush to canvas and area businesses have crafted gifts baskets for one single purpose: To raise money to combat human trafficking.

Donations ranging from dinners to Mary Kay products with a retail value of up to $400 will be part of the silent auction at the second annual Family Outdoor Expo on Saturday, July 11, at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center in Gainesville.

“Our local businesses have been so gracious to donate silent auction items,” said Hall County Correctional Institution Sgt. Mike Queen, who is the event organizer. “We’ve got over 50, and all of them are something you would like to take home.”

In addition to the silent auction, the free event will have more than 50 vendors, food trucks, kid-friendly activities and live entertainment.

The money raised will benefit local ministries fighting to end human trafficking. Last year, more than $7,000 was collected from the 2,500 people attending. More money and attendance is estimated for this year since the event has increased its scope.

“It’s already quite a bit large,” Queen said. “We’ve got more booths, more silent auctions and we’ve had many, many more people contact us.”

He said the additional revenue “will make a large amount of difference.”

Nonprofit ministries reaping the benefits will be Beautiful Feet Ministries, SS Revolution Ministries, BeLoved Atlanta and Revved Up Kids. They provide prevention, education and healing services related to human trafficking.

“(Human trafficking) is a real problem and it’s growing at an enormous rate,” Queen said. “So if we can raise awareness for it and let people know to look for it and let some of these children know and these teenagers know what to look for, we can curtail this.

“We don’t want to lead the nation in this. We need to protect our children.”

Beautiful Feet Ministries, a program of SS Revolution Ministries, offers prostitutes housing for 6 to 12 months and helps them with job training, acquiring their GED and counseling. They also provide basic needs for women to get back on their feet.

“This is such a blessing to us as a ministry and an organization,” SS Revolution cofounder and event organizer Jennifer Robson said.

BeLoved Atlanta goes out to strip clubs and makes friends with the women. They also call and talk to the women. Their goal is to offer these women a way out.

With its focus on prevention, Revved Up Kids goes to local schools, churches and other organizations to teach people about what to look out for and other ways to prevent becoming a human trafficking victim.

“All this money will help with projects right here in our immediate area,” Queen said. “Where it is needed so badly.”