Mayo Clinic launched a new “gift registry” Monday, accepting donations of items to support sex trafficking victims in Minnesota.
It’s one of many new initiatives, programs and PSA campaigns starting up ahead of the Feb. 4 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, leveraging the attention from the international event to boost awareness and funding for sex trafficking.
The registry, at RiseUpGifts.org, includes items such as socks, winter coats, clothing and blankets that will be distributed to victims by The Link, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that helps sexually exploited youth.
“By offering support with these gifts, it allows victims to feel a sense of hope and to potentially become a survivor,” Arne Graff, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Child and Family Advocacy Center, said in a statement.
The Rochester-based organization is a founding sponsor of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.
The big game and 10 days of events before it are expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors to Minnesota. Researchers at the University of Minnesota say it will likely draw more sex ads just like other big events such as the fishing opener.
An 80-member group, led by Hennepin and Ramsey counties along with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, unveiled an NFL-backed plan last summer to prevent and combat sex trafficking. The plan includes adding six shelter beds for juveniles and 10 beds for adults in prostitution, increasing street outreach teams and doing special training for bus drivers, hotel workers, Minneapolis city staff, Mall of America staff and all 10,000 Super Bowl volunteers in how to identify sex trafficking. Law enforcement will also conduct stings 10 days before the Super Bowl and throughout the 10-day event, tapping new technology such as bots to respond to texts with johns.
A report earlier this year analyzed Minnesota sex buyers and said that, based off a national study, an estimated 380,000 men — 14 percent — may have bought sex at least once. That’s why, from St. Paul to St. Peter, police are shifting resources to go after buyers to reduce the demand for buying sex.