Back in September, Friends Christian Church in Yorba Linda held a spectacular event in conjunction with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) to honor survivors of Human Trafficking with a graduation ceremony. Many, if not the majority of these individuals had never experienced any sort of ceremony of this sort before, let alone one of this caliber and enthusiasm.

In order to pull off an event of this emotional weight and importance, both Erica Sperrazzo of Eastside Christian Church’s Local Compassion Department and Yves Masquefa of Yves’ Restaurant and Wine Bar in Anaheim came alongside the efforts of the leadership at Friends Church and the task force in organizing this special event for survivors once trafficked.

Erica and Yves, long time friends, individually caught wind of this monumental event and both offered to help out in specific ways that were huge additions in allowing the evening to run smoothly and be extremely intentional for each of the survivors.

Eastside rallied up volunteers to create gift baskets for each survivor, filled with goodies catered particularly to their individual preferences and needs, thanks to the advocates that supplied the necessary information. Meanwhile, Yves and his volunteer staff composed of culinary students from the surrounding communities created a multi-course meal that was to the nines in every regard.  Both of these efforts were paramount in communicating worth, value and celebration to these individuals who had been told up quite the opposite all their lives.

Efforts in collaboration with the OCHTTF are continuing and growing stronger--and each of us can play a role! Are you able to “adopt” a survivor this Christmas season and give them a reason to remember this precious season? Do you bake? Eastside is collecting both homemade and purchased baked goods to give to survivors for Thanksgiving in addition to their traditional meal.  Baked goods should be individually wrapped and dropped off to the ECC office by November 22.

Eastside is currently helping to plan a baby shower for one such survivor that finds herself facing an unplanned pregnancy.  In the face of her fears in walking this journey, these events serve in celebrating the new life being brought into the world in offering community and tangible resources for this new mother. 

Although we like to keep these events intimate out of respect for the survivors, you can still be a part! Do you have the means and desire to purchase a need for this new mom? Let us know! Are you able to make this Christmas one to remember for a particular survivor by fulfilling a wish list that provides for her particular needs? Would you enjoy being a part of the group of volunteers who sends flowers to the group homes of survivors every other week?

Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.” These gifts speak such worth and love into the lives of these unique human beings. Your impact is one of deep significance.

With the plethora of challenges these survivors face while working towards rebuilding their lives and gaining healing, we can be the ones to fill their necessities and equip them for sustaining a life lived to the full.  Not every way of giving may look the same, but the meaning certainly remains constant.

Additional questions? Contact esperrazzo@eastside.com.