TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - There are hundreds of young victims of sex trafficking in Ohio, many of them are right here in the Toledo area. The state's only licensed recovery home for survivors is in Wood county. It was started by a local non-profit called The Daughter Project.
In the last three years, the recovery home has helped a dozen girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Hundreds of people of all ages made that possible through donations of time and money. The Daughter Project is hoping to expand that reach, with your help.
Jeff Wilbarger is the founder of The Daughter Project, "We have 100,000 children in the United States alone who are being trafficked right now."
It's numbers like that, that motivated Wilbarger to help victims of the sex trafficking trade, "I would argue it is the worst crime one human can perpetrate against another."
It's a crime that is permeating cities large and small across America.
Here in Ohio experts say about 2,000 people are trafficked every year and more than half of them are children. Wilbarger says the average age of a sex trafficking victim is just 13, "Sadly there are men in communities throughout northwest Ohio and the rest of America paying to have sex with children. It is incredible to think about that, it's very sad. The only FBI trafficking task force in Ohio is here in Toledo. One of the agents on that task force told me they have seen victims as young as 10 years old."
Wilbarger says based on FBI statistics, Toledo is one of the top five cities in America according to the Ohio Trafficking Commission, 'They ranked us fourth in the country for trafficking behind Las Vegas, Miami, and Portland. In that same study we were ranked number one per capita."
The Wood county recovery home is the way Wilbarger and many others are fighting back. The victims live there with round the clock care. Volunteers and staff work with them through their recovery, "Instead of just being upset or bothered by the problem, be part of the solution. There are a lot of ways to do that."
Daniela Foley is a student at Central Catholic High School who is also part of the effort to help the victims.This is the second year she's organized a celebrity wait night, 'I wanted to raise awareness through this event, but of course I also want to raise a lot of money for The Daughter Project too. Last year we raised $6,000 and this year we've already raised that much and we are still about a month away from the event."
The Celebrity Wait Night is April 23rd. It's at the Park Inn in downtown Toledo from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $30. All the tip and silent auction money will be donated to The Daughter Project. RSVP by April 6th to (734) 347-0676 or email@example.com.
If you can't make it that night but would like to get involved, we've posted a link at the top of this story.