ARLINGTON — Shelby Carr wasn’t even 18 yet when the culmination of years worth of research and organization finally paid off on behalf of some of the world’s most endangered people on Saturday, Oct. 13, as her silent auction and spaghetti dinner fundraiser for “Not For Sale” kicked off at the Arlington First Baptist Church.
Carr is currently a senior at Arlington High School, but she hadn’t even started her junior year when a mission trip to Thailand opened her eyes to the prevalence of human trafficking throughout the world.
“I was amazed that people could buy people who were younger than me, even as young as my sister,” Carr told the nearly 200 attendees of the Oct. 13 fundraiser, who bid on items donated by nearly 100 area businesses and other organizations and individuals.
Carr’s sister further cemented Shelby’s connection to anti-slavery activism by running in a 5K to benefit “Not For Sale,” which inspired Shelby Carr to research the nonprofit abolitionist group online.
“For my junior year, I had to write a persuasive essay on a topic, so I chose human trafficking,” Carr said. “Normally, you have to write both sides, but there’s not really a pro-slavery argument, so I explained why it happens, which is because it makes people money. To the human traffickers, slavery is just a business.”
For her senior project, Carr found that she just couldn’t let go of this issue, so she spent at least 30 hours on drumming up donations alone for the auction. She expressed her appreciation to the Local Scoop restaurant for donating enough spaghetti to feed 100 attendees, but Shelby wanted to be able to accommodate at least twice as many diners, so she arranged to buy another 100 plates from the restaurant.
“Between family and friends, I’ve had 15 volunteers helping me out with this,” Carr said. “I also want to make sure I thank our downtown businesses. I’d only hoped for 50 donations. My goal is to generate $1,000 for ‘Not For Sale.’”
Leo Carpenter, regional director of “Not For Sale” in Washington state, contrasted Carr’s activism with his own activities in high school.
“When I was a senior, I wasn’t coming up with anything as ambitious as this,” Carpenter said, drawing applause from the audience at the Arlington First Baptist Church. “Young people are our next generation line of defense, so I couldn’t say no to a senior in high school who could pull this off.”
Carpenter explained that “Not For Sale” focuses not only on rescuing people from slavery, but also on proactively preventing them from falling victim to other human traffickers once they have been rescued.
“Many victims of human trafficking are brought into countries illegally,” said Carpenter, who noted that such people have few resources available to make lives for themselves. “They need a sustainable future. We work on alleviating the reasons they’re susceptible to human trafficking in the first place. In so much of the Third World, female children especially are like savings bonds for these families, and our goal is to make sure that they never cash them in.”
“I’d always thought slavery was abolished hundreds of years ago, but it’s here and it’s real,” Carr said. “The Bible tells us to act to fight injustice.”
For more information on “Not For Sale,” log onto www.notforsalecampaign.org or visit them at www.facebook.com/notforsalecampaign.