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Gift of Freedom event aims at raising funds to combat child trafficking

Shellie Peterson
Shellie Petersonhttp://Ewritingstudio.com
Shellie Peterson is a mom, wife and freelance writer. She currently lives in Santaquin with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read, write and spend as much time as possible camping.

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Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to freeing modern-day slaves from trafficking, is hosting a Gift of Freedom shopping event on Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds. 

The event offers a fun, boutique-style Christmas shopping experience, and all of the proceeds go to OUR to rescue children from sex trafficking.

The Gift of Freedom event will feature diverse types of products, including books, jewelry, kids’ toys, baskets and gift cards to local restaurants and businesses. All items are donated by local business owners and the event is run by volunteers who are proud to dedicate their time to such a worthy cause. 

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The family-friendly event will also feature bounce houses, food trucks, dessert vendors, and photo opportunities with Santa and Disney Princesses. 

There will also be live bands and a DJ to help keep things lively and entertaining. 

Some of the vendors who have donated products to this year’s Gift of Freedom event include Bookroo, Basil and Blush, Mia’s Boutique, Dressed in White, and Hale Center Theater. 

There were more than 4,000 people who attended last year’s event, and organizers are hoping to double that number this year. 

Michelle North of South Jordan is a committee leader for the Gift of Freedom event and has been involved in the fundraiser for a number of years, after her and her husband, Kish, saw a news broadcast on an OUR CrossFit opening in Draper. 

“We saw they were opening up an OUR CrossFit in Draper. My husband went down there without me to find out the dues and how much everything was. 

While he was there, they were finishing up the last touches to the gym and he spoke to them and found out that 100 percent of the proceeds go to OUR. So, you’re working out for a cause. It’s a wonderful gym and is really family-friendly.” 

After joining the gym, North and her family discovered that OUR was putting on a lot of events and fundraisers to help raise money and awareness for child trafficking. North’s husband volunteered her to bake for a Gift of Freedom event, and she’s been doing it for the last three years. This year, she decided to take on something much bigger. 

North explained that this is her first time as a committee leader for the Gift of Freedom event, though she has been involved with Operation Underground Railroad for years. Since 2016, the Gift of Freedom event has been organized by Britney Carpenter, but she was unable to do it this year. North decided to step in on a volunteer basis to make sure the event wasn’t canceled for 2020. 

It costs between $2,000 and $5,000 to rescue a single child from slavery. 

The goal of the Gift of Freedom event is to raise enough money to rescue as many children as possible. Operation Underground Railroad does not just rescue children then walk away. 

The organization also works with government authorities to place rescued children in rehabilitation programs, orphanages or with family whenever possible. 

To learn how you can donate, contact Michelle North at 714-561-7947. Donations are needed before Oct. 23 so they can be organized and priced for the event (though no donations will be turned away, no matter how late they come through). 

If you would like to donate money in the form of a check, you can make it out to Operation Underground Railroad. On the memo line, write “Gift of Freedom.” Mail all checks to the OUR Draper office located at 13648 S. 200 W. #1, Draper, Utah 84020. On the recipient line, write “ATTN: Michelle North, Gift of Freedom.” 

Those who would like to volunteer for the event or learn more about the organization are encouraged to visit http://www.ourrescue.org.  (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor.)

Shellie Peterson
Shellie Petersonhttp://Ewritingstudio.com
Shellie Peterson is a mom, wife and freelance writer. She currently lives in Santaquin with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read, write and spend as much time as possible camping.

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