By Krista Henderson.

When you give a girl a lemon, she’ll probably ask to make lemonade. When she makes the lemonade, she might give up her 8th birthday party to set up a lemonade stand and raise $800 to help children in need. 8-year-old Olivia, sold lemonade to raise money for Blanket Fort Hope, an organization that focuses on child trafficking prevention and awareness in Alabama. Olivia recognized the need, and joined the fight against child trafficking by giving up her birthday party to have our most successful lemonade stand campaign. Olivia's actions paint a beautiful picture of what selfless love, acts of service, and #GivingTuesday is all about.

BFH focuses on child trafficking prevention and awareness, and is currently making plans to build the first safe house for child trafficking victims in Alabama.  Our mission is to love and care for child trafficking victims through housing, services, and long-term commitment, and to prevent children from becoming victims by educating children, and professionals who work with children, about human trafficking. This is a major crisis in our nation, and throughout Alabama because of the interstate systems connecting Atlanta and New Orleans. Many Alabamians believe that human trafficking only occurs overseas or in other big cities, and don’t realize the devastating number of children that need help right here in Alabama. We are in the fight to help child victims recover from this horrific crime in a safe and secure environment through healing and support. Our future house will allow children to be free and imaginative. Every Blanket Fort has a name, and ours is named Hope. 

Blanket Fort Hope is so excited to participate in #GivingTuesday again. We have big plans for this year, with an ultimate goal of $25,000. The money raised will be directly used in the establishment of our safe house. To reach our goal, we are partnering with three local businesses. Bancorp South is having a competition between its seven branches in the Birmingham area to see who can raise the most money by asking their customers to donate, as well as their employees. Each branch will be creating a blanket out of card stock that represent each donation. The branch that completes their blanket first will be the winner, and will be recognized on social media. Camping World, a local RV retailer, is allowing us to set a booth up on #GivingTuesday, along with an organization that provides child identities. We are also partnering with a local clothing boutique, LJ’s Retail Therapy. They are gracious enough to donate 15% of their sales for the day to our #GivingTuesday fund. By partnering with these businesses, and blasting out our plan on social media, we hope to inspire people to give back after their holiday shopping.

#GivingTuesday is our kickoff to an overall goal of $550,000 that will be used in the establishment of our safe house. It’s stories like Olivia’s that keep us hopeful that we will see an end to child trafficking, and serves as a reminder that even the smallest things (and people) can make the biggest difference for others. So we would like to ask; what inspires you to give?