CARE PACKAGE PROGRAM
Building Relationships With Exploited Individuals
Every month, we send dozens of carefully-curated care packages to survivors in our network. This program is integral to building relationships with trafficked people. We've found that individuals we send packages to are far more likely to reach out for help when they're able, than those not receiving care packages.
Continue reading to learn about the program's history and opportunities to support this work.
Coping With Isolation: The Care Package Program History
Social media was one of the ways The Avery Center co-founder Megan Lundstrom coped with her isolation while she was being trafficked. While her account was strictly monitored by her traffickers, she was permitted to interact with other women who were also in “The Game.” Not only did this help normalize Megan’s experiences, but it also benefited her trafficker by further reinforcing social norms common in pimp-controlled trafficking.
When Megan escaped her trafficker in 2012, she left her social media page open to stay in contact with the individuals she had met across the country during her time of exploitation. As Megan began to share her journey to freedom through her social media page, her followers grew from 50 in 2012 to 300 in 2015. It was at that point that Megan realized she had an incredible position in this social media network to continue sharing her story and building trust with the people she interacted with there.
The Avery Center (formerly Free Our Girls) formally "adopted" this social media profile in 2015 following an informal observational survey of these social media profiles to better understand the individuals Megan was connected with. This network is now approaching 1,600 actively trafficked people across the US and Canada. Megan continues to share her experiences with this network, and it has also become our main point of initial contact for outreach and intervention.
"I want to say thank you so much for the care packages all year round. It’s been a hard year for me and my son, your care packages give me hope to keep going and remind me that I am not alone."
"I just wanted to tell you that I so needed this package today. Today I found out some really hard news."
Care Package Outreach Program
In 2016, we began sending out Outreach Care Packages on a first-come, first-serve basis each month. Over the course of the year, the organization delivered nearly 120 packages to 45 different women using this social media network. Based on the feedback from the women who received these packages in 2016, we found that the individuals we have had the opportunity to build relationships with through this program are more likely to reach out for help when they are able to than those who did not receive packages. This makes our Care Package Program one of our most critical, and most valuable, outreach efforts for people being trafficked.
Beginning in 2018, the Care Package Program transitioned from a first-come, first-serve basis to a “subscription box” model – the individual signs up one time, and they receive a care package each month for the rest of the year. In 2018, we were able to deliver over 600 packages to 54 unique recipients across North America. In 2019, we delivered over 780 packages to 65 individuals. Each care package is assembled with self-care items and a brochure for The Avery Center's services.
"Thank you so much! I wasn’t expecting to be moved so deeply, especially since I’ve been out of the life for so long. But I think there is always that little part on the inside that feels isolated and alone."
"As someone who does a lot of caring for others, it’s hard to recognize when you need to be cared for or loved. I am so thankful...the care package couldn’t have come at a more needed time!"
The Future of the Care Package Program
We're working to transition completely to supplying Fair Trade Certified and locally sourced products in every care package. We realize that it is does not align with our vision and mission of ending exploitation if we are not aware of the global supply chain of the products we send out each month.
We're also exploring opportunities to increase the self-sufficiency of this program with a buy one, get one model (you subscribe to a monthly Care Package box for yourself or a friend, and your purchase covers sending an additional package to a trafficked individual).
Our Care Package Program represents our largest ongoing funding need, with two main pieces: the gifts that go in each package, and the postage to cover the cost of delivery.
Opportunities to Support the Care Package Program
Gifts & Supplies Included in Care Packages
Interested in supplying new locally-crafted and/or Fair Trade Certified (FTC) items for our monthly care packages? Each month, we need a quantity of 100 of the same item(s) to include in care packages. With our focus on self-care items, there are hundreds of FTC companies that offer products within our price range that allow for an exciting surprise each month!
Shipping Costs for Care Packages
Shipping costs are around $4 per package. You can sponsor the shipping for a single package, cover a recipient’s packages for the year, or sponsor one month of packages.
Volunteer with the Care Package Program
Be involved directly with Care Package Assembly and the behind-the-scenes tasks. Volunteer roles for the Care Package Program include: Community Partnerships, Marketing, Packaging, Hand-written Affirmations, Data Management, and Research. We need volunteers who can work from home as well as volunteers in the office on assembly days.
"I think this is another step toward knowing I am not alone and that there are others who have been through this too. This will be a healing experience. I am still journeying into my personal dignity."
"This month's package is a special blessing. It's been SO hard to break down my barriers to self-care lately. The awesome essential oils are helping and reminding me to do that."
Each care package we send has the power to uplift in the hardest of times. Become a monthly supporter to help us continue this program in 2020. Just $4 a month helps us a send care package to a survivor for the entire year!