Christmas tree fundraiser brings awareness to human trafficking

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Helping victims of a crime that's not always easy to spot, the Festival of Trees is shining light on the dark issue of human trafficking in Alaska.

From red and gold to snow white and hues of blue, ten designer Christmas trees are on display at the Dimond Center Mall for the Alaska Festival of Trees. Each themed tree has a package of prizes. Raffle tickets are $10 each or six tickets for $50. Winners will receive the decorated Christmas tree and the prizes.

All proceeds go the nonprofits Priceless and Chosen. The organization, Priceless Alaska works with law enforcement agencies to mentor victims of human trafficking.

Donna Thompson, the director and organizer for Priceless and Chosen said the organization provides a safe haven for individuals removed from trafficking situations.

Thompson said, "Chosen works with at-risk youth who have aged out of the foster care system and are likely targets of trafficking organizations."

She said trafficking is modern-day slavery and is often times difficult for victims to escape,“prevention absolutely is the key."

According to Priceless and Chosen, trafficking is the second fastest growing crime in Alaska. The non-profits said each year about 700 Alaskans age out of foster care. Forty percent of those who age out become homeless and over ninety percent of those individuals are approached or recruited for trafficking.

Thompson said the funds go toward sustaining safe housing for victims and for any immediate needs they might have. She said counseling is essential for almost all of the victims.

Priceless Alaska and Chosen are also hosting family-friendly events on the weekends as part of the festival. Winners will be notified on December 17th.

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