Midtown: Community

Art to aid human-trafficking victims

The Salvation Army’s effort to help human-trafficking victims in North Carolina is in trouble – the grant supposed to fund the Raleigh-based program for two years is on the verge of running out. Workers were expecting to see 12 victims over two years; instead, they have found 30 in the first nine months.

If the money runs out, the program will be forced to turn down new cases of victims exploited for sex or labor and needing help to start a new life.

So a project founded by a Raleigh church is stepping in this First Friday to help, recruiting local artists to sell art for the cause.

“When you read through scripture, it is clear that God hears the cries of the oppressed,” said Ekklesia Church at Raleigh co-pastor Curtis Mulder, who co-founded the Red Light Film and Art Project with fellow pastor C.J. Stephens last fall. “This is an expression of that, of leaning into the way God has wired us.”

More than 30 artists will display and sell work at Marbles Children’s Museum, brought together by Red Light, with all proceeds to go toward helping the Salvation Army program keep their second full-time caseworker.

It’s a more somber theme than your usual First Friday event, but Mulder hopes to attract more than 400 people. All proceeds go to the Salvation Army’s anti-human-trafficking program, whose members are rooting Mulder and Stephens on, spokeswoman Paige Bagwell said.

“North Carolina is becoming a hub for (human trafficking) because we have a large highway system that can transport people easily,” Bagwell said. “It’s here whether we like it or not, and it’s something we have to face as a community very quickly.”