MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Volunteers with the Coastal Region Human Trafficking Task Force helped raise awareness about human trafficking by distributing educational posters to dozens of hotels in Horry and Georgetown Counties on Saturday.
“We want them to be aware that it’s happening right here in our community,” Lt. Sherri Smith with the Horry County Sheriff’s Office said.
Groups went from hotel to hotel asking employees to hang the posters in the lobbies, bathrooms and other public places. The posters listed the warning signs of human trafficking and what victims can do to get help.
Around 50 volunteers showed up to help, some of which were motivated by their own, personal stories.
“I used to be a victim of human trafficking, but now I’m a survivor,” Katie Relyea, a volunteer and student at Horry-Georgetown Technical College said. “It helps me because it makes me feel better about myself, and I just want to use my past, not to define me but to help others.”
Lt. Smith says it’s important to spread awareness about human trafficking so victims know there are people who want to help.
“We want to recognize that that is going on in our community, and we as law enforcement, we want to know about it, and we want to make an arrest, but we also want to identify that victim and give them the services they need and turn them from a victim into a survivor; that’s our ultimate goal,” Lt. Smith said.
Volunteers distributed 200 posters to hotels in both counties on Saturday, and as a result, law enforcement received five tips to follow.
To learn more about human trafficking, or to find out how you can help, click here.
If you are a victim of human trafficking and need help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(800)-373-7888.